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B.C. Greens call for emergency health response to drug toxicity crisis

June 01, 2021

VICTORIA, B.C. –  Today, the B.C. Coroner reported at least 176 British Columbians died from illicit drug toxicity in April. The B.C. Greens are calling for immediate action and a new, depoliticized approach to the drug toxicity crisis.

“Nearly six people are dying each day from a poisoned drug supply,” said Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley. “These people are loved, they lived normal lives, they contributed to and shaped British Columbia, and they are gone due to a lack of effective government intervention. We have seen this government work collaboratively with all parties to protect British Columbians in times of profound crisis. We saw this a year ago, when in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, $5 billion was unanimously approved for emergency spending. It has been five years since this illicit drug toxicity emergency was declared and in that time, we have not seen a similar all-party approach that treats this emergency for what it is.”

On May 14, 2021, MLA Sonia Furstenau sent a letter to the B.C. NDP and B.C. Liberals requesting leaders embrace all-party collaboration as this crisis continues to worsen. Now, the B.C. Greens are calling on the government to allocate part of the $3.1 billion dollar contingency fund towards a regulated and expanded safe supply and to implement an all-party committee mandated to create meaningful long term solutions to the illicit drug toxicity crisis. 

“Indigenous people accounted for 15% of all illicit drug deaths in 2020, five times more than their share of the province’s total population, according to the First Nations Health Authority”, said Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands and member of the Tsartlip First Nation. “We can be certain that this number has increased in 2021.”

“These drug poisonings are another part of the legacy of trauma that Indigenous people have endured over generations. As we speak of reconciliation in this country, and in this Legislative Assembly, we must include urgent supports for those managing the devastating impacts of intergenerational trauma.”

“Despite the efforts of previous governments, B.C. is still at the forefront of the drug toxicity crisis. We have by far the highest number of deaths per capita in the country, and one of the highest in North America. It’s clear that the current approach is not working. We need to take politics out of the equation and work together to overhaul our response to this crisis.”

The B.C. Green Caucus is calling on government to urgently implement the following measures:

  • Use as much as is necessary from the $3.1 billion contingency fund to immediately expand a regulated safe supply program that includes stronger pharmaceutical-grade alternatives to the street supply, removes barriers to access, and reduces stigma in accessing treatment. 
  • Urgently create a cross-party committee to implement meaningful immediate and long-term solutions to the illicit drug toxicity crisis.

 

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Media contact 

JoJo Beattie    

Press Secretary 

B.C. Green Caucus

+1 250-882-6187 | [email protected]  

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