As deaths from fentanyl overdoses continue to mount in B.C., the province says an agreement between the RCMP and China will start stemming the flow of the deadly drug.
A statement from RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson says the Chinese Government has agreed to try stopping fentanyl shipments before they leave China for Canadian destinations.
B.C.’s Health Minister, Terry Lake, says this is the kind of agreement the province has been looking for.
“It is an uncontrolled substance in China whereas it is a controlled substance in Canada. This will clamp down on the flow of fentanyl into British Columbia.”
He hopes the agreement will make a difference soon.
“We know from past experience that when the Chinese government decides to do something like this we can expect, I think, pretty quick action. That’s been our experience in the past.”
The U.S. has a similar agreement with China.
The most recent numbers from the B.C. Coroner’s Office show two people a day are dying from opioid overdoses.
Latest numbers show a total of 662 people have died in the province so far from overdoses.
A larger picture
Abbotsford deputy Chief Mike Serr is the co-chair of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Drug Abuse Committee, and he says this MOU with China will help limit the levels of Fentanyl coming in.
“But it’s a much larger picture and we’re going to need to address this issue from multiple areas if we’re going to make any type of difference. That’s through health, that’s through enforcement through multiple levels, and through education.”
Meanwhile, B.C.’s Public Safety Minister is welcoming the new deal.
Mike Morris says in addition to this agreement, the federal government is continuing to pushing for more assistance from the Chinese government.
“There’s some high level diplomatic work being undertaken right now to complement what the RCMP have done and I am hopeful that we are going to see some distant future,” he said.
Morris couldn’t say how soon the province will see supplies from China diminish, or by what amount the supply would be cut.
“It’s crossing international borders. It’s across the ocean so I don’t know how soon that we can see some tangible results from this but I think this is a great step.”
But he says, from his past experience on the force, he knows deals like this take time to get working smoothly.
How police in Canada and China work together in joint investigations will be formalized next week.
With files from Jeremy Lye