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

What you see …

If you have a recent photo to share email it to editor@trailtimes.ca

Storm the Stairs and Trail Kidney Walk this weekend

Grapevine: Events in the Trail area for the week of Sept. 20 to Sept. 26

Kootenay Robusters end 18th paddling season

Women of Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Christina Lake and Grand Forks came together in 2001

Military exercises may be audible in Trail

The exercises will be conducted in the Trail area from Thursday to Sunday

Council rollover inspires crop of hopeful politicians

Fourteen people vying for six council seats

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

‘Hero’ kid fighting cancer helping with B.C. Children’s Hospital fundraiser

Penticton’s Wills Hodgkinson helping raise funds for B.C. Children’s Hospital

Most Read