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

High construction costs send Douglas bus lane project $2.2 million higher

But re-tendered bid process by Victoria secures lower bid for Hillside-to-Tolmie stretch

Artwork inspires Glenlyon Norfolk student

A teen party turned philanthropic in the wake of an Artemis Place… Continue reading

Central Saanich veteran receives Legion of Honour from France

Kenneth Brind flew 30 bombing missions over France during the Second World War

Victoria hopes to have a fully electric bus fleet by 2030

Business plan to be created, region to request its use as a pilot community for project

Sooke rescinds bench letters, offers apology

District sent out letters asking $2000 for maintenance from those who purchased memorial benches

VIDEO: Oak Bay senior boys basketball takes Tsumura title

Junior and senior teams host Gary Taylor Classic starting Thursday

Horgan says pot smokers may face same outdoor rules as cigarette smokers

B.C. is developing its rules on recreational marijuana

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers naughty list for the week of Dec. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Truck driver volunteers to take dog lost in B.C. back home to Alberta

Frankie, a pit bull service dog, was found wandering in the Lower Mainland

Ladysmith woman who jumped from ferry meets rescuers

A local artist who survived five hours in the frigid waters of… Continue reading

B.C. teacher suspended after explicit images projected to class

Jeffrey Rohin Muthanna had been viewing porn on a school laptop for two years

Man who pledged to give B.C. hockey team millions charged with fraud

Mike Gould has since repaid $8,000 he allegedly owed Cranbrook restaurant, owner says

Strong economy fuels housing sales in B.C.: report

Economist says demand for houses is being supported by a large number of millennials entering the market

Tequila, hammers and knives: what not to bring on an airplane

Vancouver International Airport staff provide tips on travelling during the holidays

Most Read