Montana's governor and Canada's consul general based in Denver will participate in a Helena conference on best practices and approaches to opioid issues on both sides of the border. 

Tuesday's conference at Carroll College has already filled up with a total of 130 people registered, and registration is now closed.

The event will bring together over 30 Montana and Canadian subject matter experts representing state and local government, law enforcement, public health, substance abuse treatment, mental health and other interested parties. 

“Combatting the opioid crisis has been a priority of mine since serving as attorney general, and Montana has been able to buck national trends when it comes to opioid deaths,” Bullock said. “I look forward to this unique opportunity to bring together experts and share solutions.”

Stéphane Lessard, consul general of Canada, is hopeful the workshop leads to more cross border partnerships.

“Unfortunately, opioid addiction is a crisis on both sides of our shared border,” he said. “It’s my hope this forum will facilitate meaningful dialogue between these key stakeholders, which ideally will lead to identifying potential areas for collaboration.”

Conference participants from both sides of the border will gather to promote discussions, share ideas, lessons learned, as well as the unique jurisdictional approaches to tackling this crisis.

The agenda showcases four panel discussions that will cover the current situation in both the US and Canada, identify recent successes and new opportunities for interventions, including in reducing the harms of addiction.

There will also be breakout sessions focused on service delivery and treatment and addressing stigma and raising awareness of treatment avenues.

The event is being jointly sponsored by the Department of Public Health and Human Services and the Consulate General of Canada in Denver.

The Consulate General on Canada in Denver is responsible for Canada’s relations with the U.S. Rocky Mountain West region, including Montana. Lessard said events such as these are a high priority for Global Affairs Canada, as they create opportunities for meaningful conversations on topics of shared importance to Canada and the U.S. and serve to strengthen the fabric of cross-border relationship.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 people have died from a drug overdose. And, in 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids was 6 times higher than in 1999.

In Montana, from 2015 to 2017 a total of 345 Montanans died from a drug overdose, with 86 of these drug overdose deaths (25 percent) were due to opioids.

In Canada, the number of opioid-related deaths exceeded 4,000, a 36 percent increase over 2016. The vast majority (76 percent) of these fatalities occurred among men, and 72 percent of all deaths in 2017 were related to fentanyl or its analogues. There were significant regional variations in the occurrences of death, with British Columbia and Ontario having the most fatalities (numbers 1 and 2, respectively).

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