Alta. ministers request ‘emergency meeting’ with B.C. after police claim drug bust included safe supply

The premier of Alberta is directing two of her ministers to organize an emergency meeting with their B.C. counterparts after RCMP officers in Prince George claimed Thursday that a recent drug bust included diverted safer supply drugs.

The premier of Alberta is directing two of her ministers to organize an emergency meeting with their B.C. counterparts after RCMP officers in Prince George claimed Thursday that a recent drug bust included diverted safer supply drugs.

The Prince George RCMP said after a months-long investigation, it had seized over 10,000 pills, including prescription and non-prescription drugs.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Listen to CityNews 1130 LIVE now!

Mounties in that city claimed the “Morphine and Hydromorphone (also known as Dilaudid) are safe supply prescription drugs.”

“We have noted an alarming trend over the last year in the amount prescription drugs located during drug trafficking investigations, noting they are being used as a form of currency to purchase more potent, illicit street drugs,” Corp. Jennifer Cooper said in a statement. “Organized crime groups are actively involved in the redistribution of safe supply and prescription drugs, some of which are then moved out of British Columbia and resold. The reselling of prescription drugs significantly increases the profits realized by Organized Crime.”

In their statement, Mounties did not say how they confirmed the drugs seized came from the B.C. safe supply program.

Speaking to CityNews, Cooper said the way Mounties differentiate between safe supply and illicit supply is that officers “are finding them still within prescription bottles.”

“I’m not privy to all of the investigation details, but it’s a multiple, ongoing investigation. I’ve been given scant details as to what they’re seeing, but I have been assured that some of them are appearing to be safe supply drugs,” Cooper said.

Cooper claimed some people who have been prescribed medications such as Morphine or Hydromorphone are then selling their drugs “for more potent illicit drugs.”

However, Cooper did not specify any cases in which she is aware of the illicit drugs being traded interprovincially.

“[The] Campbell River RCMP recently put out a similar media release in February regarding very similar style search warrants and … the drugs that they’ve seized, as well. So, clearly [there’s] at least two detachments … I’m sure there are more, they just haven’t had the opportunity to put out their results yet,” she told CityNews.

“One of our primary focuses is reminding the public that just because it is a prescription drug, it is not safe to take if you’ve not been prescribed it,” Cooper added.

Alberta has been warning of safe supply diversion ‘for years’: Smith

In a statement Friday, Alta. Premier Danielle Smith shared that her province has been warning “for years” that the diversion of opioids from safer supply programs could be trafficked across Canada, “potentially causing irreparable harm and death in communities across the country.”

“In Alberta, we have made the provision of ‘safe supply’ illegal to prevent this very thing from happening. Unfortunately, that does not stop organized criminals from bringing it here illegally from other provinces,” she said.

“With the serious concern of diversion becoming evident and the reality that these drugs may be ending up for resale in Alberta, I have asked Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services Mike Ellis, and Minister of Mental Health and Addiction Dan Williams, to request an emergency meeting with their counterparts in British Columbia to stop the flow of these high-potency opioids to Alberta.”

B.C. premier questions RCMP claims that bust included safe supply diversion

Speaking at an unrelated news conference Friday, B.C. Premier David Eby said his “door’s always open to meet with Premier Smith.”

“We obviously don’t agree on everything, and Alberta is going to make their own decisions … we have many shared goals for the residents of our province, including a commitment to address issues of addiction, toxic drug poisoning, drug trafficking, organized crime,” he said.

Eby added that there is a risk of diversion with all prescribed medications. However, he stated that the drugs listed by the Prince George RCMP in this most recent bust do not appear within the province’s prescribed alternatives program.

“I do want to be clear that the recent RCMP seizure of drugs … are not part of the prescribed alternatives program in British Columbia at all, and clearly could not be diverted from that program. We’re also aware that there is a serious issue of counterfeit hydromorphone pills are made from fentanyl, on the streets,” the B.C. premier said.

“They said they were from that program; it is not actually possible for that to be true.”

However, Eby said if law enforcement believes that the diversion of hydromorphone is occurring, the province requires that information.

“If there is any leakage, any kind of diversion happening, we want to identify it and address it quickly. The minister of Public Safety will work with police and police should absolutely bring forward that information to us to address diversion where it’s taking place,” he added.

The province has “mechanisms” in place, Eby explained, to determine whether or not the hydromorphone supply is being diverted. These measures include urine testing to “determine whether the individual who has been prescribed the hydromorphone is actually using the drug.”

“Dr. Bonnie Henry has identified diversion as a potential risk of the prescribed alternative program in B.C. and she issued a report recently about this, and recommendations to minimize that risk of diversion,” Eby said. “But it is a risk that exists with all prescribed drugs. And we do count on physicians, pharmacists, nurses who are involved in this program and in prescribing any medication to take the steps necessary to minimize the risk of diversion.”

Listen live to CityNews 1130 to keep up to date with this story. You can also subscribe to breaking news alerts sent directly to your inbox.

With files from Cole Schisler and Angelyna Mintz

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today