B.C. moves for urgent establishment of national working group on opioid litigation

David Eby

BRITISH Columbia’s attorney general has encouraged justice ministers from across the country to support B.C.’s class action lawsuit seeking damages from opioid manufacturers and distributors and to form a national working group on the issue.

The legal action, filed by the Government of British Columbia in August 2018, aims to recover millions of dollars in opioid-related health-care costs.

“The overdose crisis has affected Canadians from every region of this country,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “I am grateful that Canada’s provinces and territories are treating this issue with the seriousness that it deserves.”

In addition to the lawsuit, the B.C. government has passed enabling legislation to allow the claim to be proven in a more efficient fashion, similar to B.C.’s litigation against big tobacco.

During a series of meetings in St. John’s, N.L., representatives of the provinces and territories discussed the human and financial costs of the overdose crisis and agreed to evaluate supporting the lawsuit and establishing a working group to assist with information sharing and co-ordination on an expedited basis.

The class action was brought on behalf of British Columbia and all federal, provincial and territorial governments that paid health care, pharmaceutical and treatment costs related to opioids since 1996. If it is certified as a class action by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, each province and territory can participate in the claim.

Ministers from the provinces and territories have agreed to consider next steps on an expedited basis.