VICTORIA, B.C. – Today, BC’s Chief Coroner released their most recent report on illicit drug toxicity deaths. Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley, has released the following statement:
“211 people died from poisoned drugs in January. Their deaths were avoidable. They leave hundreds of loved ones behind, adding to the tidal wave of people affected by the toxic drug crisis and lack of political will to fix it.
“We’ve seen from this report that more than ¾ of those dying are men in their thirties to fifties, dying at home alone. But it can be anyone - a teenager trying drugs for the first time at a party, a construction worker treating pain, or a father of two children managing a decade of addiction. This isn’t a wedge issue. This is a whole of British Columbia issue.
“It’s an unfortunate reality, but teenagers, young adults, and middle-aged people are all finding ways to access toxic illicit substances across this province. And they are dying from those poisoned substances.
“Stopping preventable deaths should be this government’s priority. Safe drugs stop people from dying. It’s an emergency measure that reduces the ultimate harm, especially for those without overdose prevention sites or drug checking services. And despite political rhetoric, the data shows that safe supply is hard to access and is in limited supply for those who need it.
“We must invest in meeting people’s needs to protect against addiction - give them healthcare that reflects the communities they come from, mental health support, housing, protected natural systems, community, and purpose.
“All sides of the Legislature came together to study the toxic drug crisis. We sat in the same room and heard from chiefs of police, the Chief Coroner, doctors, researchers, and people with lived experience. We heard over and over again how harm reduction is the best path forward to stopping people from dying. I call on this BC NDP government and the Official Opposition to come together and follow the evidence on protecting British Columbians from poisoned drugs.
“We know from history where a war on drugs leads. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past. We have the opportunity before us to drop the politics and follow the evidence on safe supply and save thousands of lives in the process.”