N.B. announces more resources to address opioid overdoses

New Brunswick's health minister has announced more resources to address opioid use and overdoses in the province.

Benoît Bourque says an epidemiologist has been added to the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health to enhance surveillance capacity.

And an "additional resource" will be identified to help prioritize gaps in services and programs to address harmful opioid usage.

Officials say the resources will also help to develop a long-term approach to mitigate the harmful use of opioids.

"We recognize that there is a growing epidemic of opioid use in Canada," said Bourque in a statement.

Health officials issued a warning last week about the emergence of carfentanil — a drug about 100 times more powerful than fentanyl — in New Brunswick's illegal drug market.

Acting chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said a toxicology report revealed carfentanil was found in the system of a person who died recently in southern New Brunswick.

Russell said New Brunswick had 25 deaths due to drugs between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year, and of those, 17 were related to opioids.

"The additional resources are most welcome and will assist us in developing a long-term approach to mitigate the use of opioids in our province," said Russell on Friday.

Earlier this week, the New Brunswick government said it will spend $150,000 to buy 2,500 naloxone kits, which will be distributed to target populations throughout the province.