“We continue to confront this emergency from every angle,” says minister about illicit drug toxicity deaths

SHEILA Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, on Tuesday said in response to the BC Coroners Service’s report on illicit drug toxicity deaths from January to June 2022: “We continue to confront this emergency from every angle, making the large, systemic changes necessary to turn the tide on this crisis. Although progress on building a system of care is being made, we know there is more to do. We won’t stop working until all British Columbians can access the services they need and deserve.”

Malcolmson said in a statement: “Each and every person who died this year due to the poisoned drug supply was special and important and represents a deep loss to our communities. My heart goes out to everyone who is grieving. No words can replace these losses.

“The paramedics, police officers, peers and other first responders on the frontline of the toxic drug crisis save lives every single day, and our government is deeply grateful for their heroic work.

“Over the past six months, we’ve deepened investments in all parts of the province. We’re expanding treatment and recovery options with more substance use beds in the Okanagan, Nanaimo, Maple Ridge, and Prince George, and addiction medicine services in Vernon, Kamloops and Abbotsford. We’re also leading the country on decriminalization and prescribed safer supply.

“Since January, we have opened complex care housing at three locations for those with overlapping complex mental-health and substance-use challenges and who are at risk of homelessness, and we have announced future locations in communities throughout B.C. We have also opened new Foundry centres to support young people with mental-health and substance-use challenges in Comox and Langley, and have announced future locations in three more B.C. communities.

“The coroner’s report shows how important our work is to reduce the risk of drug poisonings and to save lives. Clearly more is needed because increasing illicit drug toxicity has outstripped B.C.’s unprecedented addition of new overdose prevention services. In the first months of 2020, the concentration of fentanyl detected in illicit drug deaths was between 4% and 8%. In June 2022, it increased to 27%.”

For updated actions on the drug poisoning response, visit: