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The Manitoba government is expected to join a class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers in Canada.

In a news release, the province said it has introduced legislation to join the lawsuit launched by British Columbia in 2018 against pharmaceutical companies in response to opioid deaths. The lawsuit names more than 40 distributors, manufacturers, and wholesalers of opioids in Canada, and also allows British Columbia to pursue claims in the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy.

In addition to British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador have all passed similar legislation.

“Our government has taken action to help the individuals, families and communities that have been affected by the misuse of opioids,” said Justice Minister Cliff Cullen in a statement. “Now it is time for Manitoba to hold these companies to account, by joining other provinces and territories to take on the pharmaceutical companies that have created such significant and ongoing harm.”

Cameron Friesen, Minister of Health, Seniors, and Active Living, said during a news conference on Thursday that the province intends to "have standing" on the court challenge.

"We all know the tremendous devastation that opioids and other substances have had in our population, destroying lives, destroying families," he said. "We are aware in the United States of various suits, including class-action suits. Today's action by the Minister of Justice indicates the Manitoba is serious about recouping any losses, and being able to apply any amounts into our healthcare system."