ELECTION 2017: Parties try to get a grip on B.C.’s overdose deaths

The Greens pledge big funding, B.C. NDP wants a new ministry and B.C. Liberals commit to more beds

Fifth in a series of Black Press B.C. election coverage leading up to May 9

BCElection2017_logoBFour people dying on average each day in B.C. from an overdose is a statistic that is steadily becoming the norm.

With the provincial election less than two weeks away, how the soon-to-be leader plans to combat and alleviate the growing death toll is top of mind for many voters.

Since then-Health-Minister Terry Lake declared the opioid crisis as B.C.’s first public health emergency, pressure has been put on the B.C. Liberals to make adequate moves to combat the hundreds of deaths.

This includes increasing support for front-line workers, implementing a solid harm reduction strategy and having enough treatment beds available for those who need them.

While close to $100 million has been doled out in funding, the deaths carry on often linked to the synthetic drug fentanyl.

As the Liberals pledge to continue in the same fashion they wrapped up before election – committing to funding 250 additional beds by 2022 – the NDP are promising a new, dedicated ministry.

Statistics and advocacy since the province declared a public health emergency:

While on the campaign trail, NDP party leader John Horgan told supporters a devoted ministry to mental health and addiction would create much-needed accountability, following an “ask-once-get-help-fast” style approach.

As for exactly what strategy this new minister would be overseeing, the NDP has yet to release any substantial plan or commitments to creating additional treatment beds.

During a trip to Riverview in Coquitlam, Horgan said he would continue the Liberals plans of rebuilding the adolescent and youth centre and building a 105-bed facility to replace the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health.

While the NDP platform vows to “provide access to a wide range of evidence-based and regulated treatment,” and the Liberals pledge to boost the BC Centre on Substance Use with another $2 million for research, it has been Green party leader Andrew Weaver who’s looking the closest at drug substitution options.

“Drugs contaminated with unknown quantities of fentanyl are killing people. Providing a clean alternative will save lives,” the platform reads.

When B.C. saw its highest peak of overdoses, provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall vocalized his support for increasing access for diacetylmorphine, or prescription heroin. This was further reiterated by B.C.’s chief coroner Lisa Lapointe.

READ: Lapointe, Kendall point to medical-grade heroin

The Greens are also promising more supervised injection sites, treatments on demand similar to what’s offered in Europe and programs that focus on youth mental health – all to the tune of $80 million over three years.

In the meantime, seven B.C. applications for supervised injection sites await federal approval, and whoever does come out as the province’s leader, will have $10 million in federal funding to work with as of May 10.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

#MeToo at work: How reporting sexual harassment works – and how it doesn’t

British Columbians have four options to report harassment or assault, but none of them are easy

‘Tis the Season … for holiday stories!

What’s your favourite holiday memory? Do you have any unique traditions? Tell us about them!

Call it Buzz Saws and Bagpipes, or the Art of the Birl and the Skirl

Proposal: Add a Highland games to Campbell River’s Logger Sports weekend

#MeToo at work: B.C. women share horrifyingly common sexual assaults

It happens to more people than you might think and impacts women inside and outside of the workplace

Myra Falls re-opening gets a timeline

Mine suspended operations in 2015 but is set to start removing ore again early next year

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to marry May 19

Kensington Palace announced the date to the public Friday

Debt-to-household-income ratio rises in third quarter

Total household credit market debt grew to $2.11 trillion in the third quarter

B.C. Mountie told to resign after texting teenage sex assault victim

RCMP documents say Const. Brian Eden sent sexually inappropriate photos to 17-year-old girl

Family doctors should learn to treat addiction, not shun patients: scientist

B.C. Centre on Substance Use’s Dr. Evan Wood said efforts underway to change addiction medicine image

Four dog deaths investigated in Cranbrook

One vet suggests a parallel to these deaths and similar ones in 2016

Meningococcal disease outbreak declared in Okanagan

Five cases in last six months among 15- to 19-year-olds, including one in Vernon

Province rejects Ajax mine in Kamloops

KGHM Ajax had proposed a 1,700-hectare open-pit copper and gold mine, just southwest of Kamloops

Border officers rally at B.C.’s Peace Arch

CBSA employees tire of ‘lack of respect’

Most Read