Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).

Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: Opioid crisis

Seventh in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

Black Press went to our readers to gather a list of questions they would like to ask the Kootenay West candidates in the upcoming provincial election.

The Kootenay West riding will have six names on the ballot: Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green) Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent) and Ed Varney (Independent).

We will posting one set of question and answers each day for the next week.

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Q: How do you or your party plan to address the opioid crisis locally in the immediate future and for the long term?

Glen Byle (Conservative) – The opioid crisis is a slightly different situation for every city. I would work at reducing the size of government on a provincial level, and providing the savings from that to the local groups who know how to best handle the crisis in their own city. There are many issues that are important to our communities that are best handled on a local level, and our tax money should be distributed to those local groups.

Katrine Conroy (NDP) – We created the first Ministry of Mental Health & Addictions. We are doubling youth treatment beds from 104 to 247. Creating new beds for adults and new regulations to keep people safe. Overdose deaths were down 36 per cent in 2019 — for the first time since 2012. COVID-19 caused a spike in deaths across Canada. We worked with Dr. Bonnie Henry to expand access to safe prescription alternatives to separate people from toxic street drugs. One death is too many. We need to keep escalating our response to this crisis.

Andrew Duncan (Green) – Regarding the opioid crisis the BC Green party will immediately develop a response based on successful programs in Europe that invest in treatment on demand, drug substitution, early-warning monitoring systems, and coordinated response. Over 1000 British Columbians have passed away this year because of opioids and yet the NDP has done little to nothing, forgetting that these are people too! This costs our healthcare system more by lack of response and wastes your money.

Fletcher Quince (Independent) – Immediately, through prevention work focusing on the most vulnerable populations. While harm reduction strategies play an important role in decreasing the societal cost of addiction, they have not proven themselves to be effective tools for minimizing exposure, or preventing the onset of addiction which initially give rise to these costs. Over the long run, I would focus on strengthening community outreach through investments in mental health practitioners and economic and engagement opportunities for recovering addicts.

Ed Varney (Independent) – Some of this problem stems from pain killers prescribed after surgery in huge amounts and with refills. We need to look at longer recovery time in hospitals where this can be monitored. You leave the hospital when you no longer need them. Many of those suffering from opioid addiction also suffer from mental health problems which need to be addressed through training and hiring of mental health workers.

Liberal candidate Corbin Kelley did not submit answers to our questions.

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betsy.kline@castlegarnews.com

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