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SOS group agrees with report on drug crisis

Business coalition calls for action after auditor general’s investigation
Save Our Streets (SOS) Coalition seeks to help businesses suffering from street-level crime that should be addressed, they say, by helping the addicted and mentally ill people of B.C.

The Save Our Streets (SOS) coalition says the auditor general’s report confirms that B.C. continues to fail in addressing the toxic drug crisis with record numbers losing their lives and confirmed gaps in the response.

The report by auditor general Michael Pickup looked at how the Ministry of Mental Health & Addictions and the Ministry of Health each undertook their roles in implementing plans for overdose prevention and supervised consumption services. Another phase of the audit looked at their implementation of the first phase of prescribed safer supply.

“Since the province declared a public health emergency in 2016, more than 14,000 people have died due to the toxic drug supply,” said Pickup. “The ministries met some of the criteria that we used to measure their performance. However, in both audits we found significant deficiencies…It was unfortunate to see such shortcomings.”

The auditor’s report made seven recommendations for improvement. They are found on the auditor general’s website ( in the document titled: B.C.’s Toxic Drug Crisis: Implementation of Harm Reduction Programs.

“B.C. must learn from this report and the policy failures such as those recently recognized in Oregon and refocus on designing and implementing a comprehensive continuum of care for those suffering from addictions and mental health issues,” said Jess Ketchum, co-founder of SOS, and former longtime Quesnel resident.

The SOS Save Our Streets Coalition consists of over 90 organizations from throughout B.C. that recognize the significant impact that drug addictions, mental health and homelessness have on the level of street crime and violence being experienced throughout B.C.

“Those suffering from addictions need ready-access to detox, treatment and recovery services as well as long-term counselling and community-based support. Those suffering from mental illness need access to professional assessment, diagnosis, and treatment,” stated Ketchum. “Those actions, in conjunction with necessary judicial reform and policing resources to deal harshly with the criminal element who prey upon the sick, is the only answer,” Ketchum concluded.

The Save Our Streets coalition is a registered B.C. society consisting of organizations representing concerned citizen groups and business associations. It is non-partisan and not-for-profit. Three Quesnel organizations are members of the SOS group, plus several province-wide businesses with branches in Quesnel.

Concerned citizen groups, and B.C. businesses interested in joining or supporting SOS are invited to apply online at or contact:

Frank Peebles

About the Author: Frank Peebles

I started my career with Black Press Media fresh out of BCIT in 1994, as part of the startup of the Prince George Free Press, then editor of the Lakes District News.
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