VICTORIA, B.C. - Today the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions released policy to expand the provision of regulated opioids, stimulants, and other pharmaceutical-grade alternatives to the illicit drug supply. Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the BC Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley has issued the following statement:
“This new policy is a small step in the right direction when what we need is a leap. Failing to provide a low-barrier and effective safe supply is costing all of us - we see it in the burnout of our emergency medical responders, in the increase in organized crime, and most of all in the people who die every day from ineffective policy.
“This policy will lead to all safe supply being covered under Pharmacare, and require all health authorities to create their own safe supply programs. These are good steps but ultimately the province is still relying on a prescriber model that puts barriers between drug users and a safe supply. It will not be enough to drastically reduce the deaths from the toxic street supply.
“Many doctors are not willing to prescribe safe supply and consider harm reduction outside of their scope. This is heightened outside of the Lower Mainland, where prescribers are few and far between. Add to this the shortage of family doctors across the province, and the stigma that those who use drugs face in the medical system. This means that many drug users - especially those living in more rural areas - will inevitably turn to the illicit supply when they can’t access a prescription or the right alternative.
“Prescribers who were consulted in the development of this policy have expressed that harm reduction is not the clinical treatment they are trained to provide, and drug users have expressed that forcing people into a program setting creates barriers to access.
“Communities on both sides are being clear that a prescriber model comes with many complications. This government should listen to those consulted, and immediately find a path outside of the medical system to provide a safe supply of drugs. A compassion club or co-op model is one such low-barrier model that can provide immediate benefits for drug users across B.C., and that model is scalable.”
B.C. Green Caucus
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