The Canadian government is moving to control six chemicals used to make the deadly opioid fentanyl in an effort to contain the growing overdose death toll.
Health Canada announced Wednesday that the new regulations will take place immediately because of the urgency of the fentanyl crisis, resulting in hundreds of fatalities across the country this year.
Health Minister Jane Philpott says regulating some of the precursors used to make the synthetic drug is among a range of steps the government is taking.
Philpott says its actions will also help police intervene in the movement of the chemicals used to make the illicit substance.
RCMP announced last week that it had reached an agreement with China to try to stop the flow of fentanyl into Canada.
British Columbia declared a public health emergency in April but the death toll keeps rising, with 622 fatalities counted between January and October, about 60 per cent of them involving fentanyl.
Philpott says the government is moving quickly to reduce the supply of illicit fentanyl, although there is much more urgent work to be done.
“There are deaths virtually every single day as a result of opioid overdoses. And some of those, in fact increasing numbers of those, are associated with illicit substances including, of course, fentanyl,” she told reporters in Ottawa.
Philpott held a two-day summit earlier this month with health experts and ministers to examine a national approach to addiction, overdoses and deaths related to opioid use.
“We hope that this will support our colleagues as they try to make sure these substances are not being (made) available and lives will be saved as a result,” she said.