Action, not words, needed as overdose crisis worsens each month: BC Liberals

THE BC LIberals said on Tuesday that the updated illicit drug overdose report by the Coroners Service reveals, B.C. continues to shatter fatal overdose records month after month — yet the government appears slow to act to reverse this deadly trend.

“On May 14, 2021, the Official Opposition wrote to the Premier asking him to activate the Select Standing Committee on Health to work on immediate actions to prevent further tragedy. The Premier didn’t even respond to the letter, refusing to engage in this non-partisan effort,” said Trevor Halford, BC Liberal Critic for Mental Health and Addictions. “Instead, he continues to reuse the same talking points month after month while more families lose loved ones. We don’t need more words — we need more action.”

Halford noted it is also critical to ensure culturally appropriate services are in place and properly funded, as First Nations people continue to be disproportionally represented in overdose numbers. While First Nations people account for 3.3. per cent of B.C.’s population, they represented 14.7 per cent of all toxic drug deaths in 2020, up from 11.8 per cent in 2019.

“It’s clear urgent action needs to be taken in our province to help save lives. More than just supplementing programs, this NDP government needs to ensure B.C. has a comprehensive mental health and addictions system,” said Halford. “British Columbians struggling with addiction need access to affordable treatment options, which are sorely lacking.”

In April 2021, B.C. recorded 176 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths, the largest number ever recorded in the month of April and an average of 5.9 deaths per day.