Mr. Speaker, our government is indeed deeply concerned about the growing number of unintentional opioid overdoses and deaths being reported in Canada, including those involving fentanyl and carfentanil. We know that this is a complex issue and that no one organization or level of government is going to be able to find a solution on its own.
Months ago, we recognized that there was an opioid crisis in Canada, and since then this government has taken swift and concrete action. We have been working closely with the provinces and territories, community organizations, academia, and international partners in all areas of response, from prevention and treatment to law enforcement and harm reduction.
We listened when nurses, doctors, pharmacists, patients, and parent organizations told us that removing the requirement for a prescription to access naloxone would allow for a more rapid response in a potential overdose situation, increasing the chance of survival. We applauded the decision of those provinces and territories that followed this recommendation and delisted naloxone in their jurisdictions.
Health Canada has also worked to provide access for Canadians to a single-use nasal spray delivery system for naloxone, which has already been approved for use in other countries. This provides our first responders and communities with an alternative to injectable naloxone that is easier to carry and administer in the event of an overdose outside a hospital setting.
In November last year, the Minister of Health co-hosted an opioid conference and summit, along with the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, where participants from across the country, in a joint statement of action, committed to concrete actions to address this crisis.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is using tools at its disposal to deal with a national public health event of concern. A special advisory committee on the epidemic of opioid overdoses was struck to focus on urgent issues related to the opioid crisis. This committee is co-chaired by Canada's interim chief public health officer and the chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia. Supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada, it includes representation of the chief medical officers of health from every province and territory. This federal, provincial, and territorial committee provides a mechanism for collaboration and information-sharing among jurisdictions focused on improving data gathering and surveillance, supporting harm reduction efforts, and addressing prevention and treatment options. To inform response efforts and to monitor the extent of the crisis, the committee is sharing, coordinating, and analyzing existing data on the public health impact of opioids in Canada. This includes examining indicators, standardizing definitions, and lending support to collaboration between chief coroners and medical examiners, led by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
Special advisory committees have previously been established as a cross-jurisdictional mechanism to allow for timely decisions on public health operations and to facilitate policy advice to deputy ministers of health, including during significant public health events such as the H1N1, Ebola outbreaks, Zika, and the welcoming of over 25,000 Syrian refugees.
I could go on at great length. This is a very serious crisis, one the government is meeting with all available tools at our disposal.