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

  • Apr. 26, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Fifth in a series of Black Press B.C. election coverage leading up to May 9

BCElection2017_logoB

 

Four 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 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.

 

// <![CDATA[

!function(e,t,s,i){var n=”InfogramEmbeds”,o=e.getElementsByTagName(“script”),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?”http:”:”https:”;if(/^/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement(“script”);a.async=1,a.id=s,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,”infogram-async”,”//e.infogr.am/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js”);

//

Just Posted

Program allows grades 4-5 students to ski for less

The SnowPass is eligible at Troll Resort, as well as more than 30 mountains across B.C.

Quesnel ringette teams showed talent in Prince George tournament

A range of ages played and won in annual competition Nov. 10-12

University ‘sports’ can be less athletic

Correlieu student Katherine Osmond on unique university sports that focus on fun

Quesnel’s Atom Select team wins Kamloops tournament

Quesnel Thunder took top spot in Okanagan tournament with outstanding performance

Skies over Quesnel will light up on Dec. 2 with magnificent fireworks display

As a thank you to all their loyal supporters and a gift to the community, Billy Barker Days Society is sponsoring a fireworks display

VIDEO: Quesnel’s Debbie Unrau creates very unique keepsakes

The Observer’s Annie Gallant speaks to Debbie Unrau about her memorial jewellery creations

B.C. reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

ICBC overbilling for crash repairs not the problem, dealers say

Collision repair shops reject union claim of inflated costs

B.C. groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Report sets exercise guidelines for young kids, including ‘tummy time’ for babies

Kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity throughout the day

Stampeders return to Grey Cup with 32-28 win over Edmonton Eskimos

The Stampeders will face the Toronto Argonauts next Sunday in Ottawa for the title

Nebraska approves TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline

Nebraska’s Public Service Commission approved TransCanada’s Keystone XL route in a close vote

B.C. VIEWS: China a better partner than U.S.

B.C. is slowly winning the softwood lumber war

Forecast calls for a snowy Canadian winter

Canadians told to brace for a ‘classic’ Canadian winter with lots of snow

Most Read