Supplies like clean needles are available at the Overdose Prevention Society’s safe-injection site. (John Lehmann/Photo for The Washington Post)

First Nation chiefs call for B.C. to declare state of emergency over opioid crisis

Union of BC Indian Chiefs says the overdose epidemic hits Indigenous people especially hard

Indigenous leaders in B.C. are calling for the province to escalate its response to the opioid crisis in First Nations communities and recognize it as a state of emergency similar to during floods and wildfires.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs this week said overdose deaths are devastating its people. The most recent data, released more than a year ago by the BC Coroners Service, found that Indigenous people are three times more likely to die from an overdose than the rest of British Columbians.

“While the opioid crisis has affected every region of Canada, British Columbia tops the four regions hardest hit, with First Nations people facing the brunt of the impacts,” said Judy Wilson, the union’s secretary-treasurer.

The B.C. government, under the BC Liberal Party in 2016, declared the sudden increase in overdoses the province’s first-ever public health emergency, allowing more immediate data collection of fatal overdoses and quicker responses on the frontlines.

READ MORE: First Nations people in B.C. three times more likely to die of overdose

Wilson said First Nations people are twice as likely to be dispensed an opioid than non-First Nations, and overdoses are reported every two hours on some reserves.

“These statistics are completely unacceptable, and B.C. must immediately act or be held accountable and liable for their inaction.”

The council is also urging the province to launch a public inquiry into influences of international organized crime, including money laundering, on the crisis.

The Ministry of Health has not yet returned a request for comment.

READ MORE: B.C. moves closer to money laundering public inquiry; feds vow ‘crack down’


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Work begins on Otter Point Road project in Sooke

The project now has a fall completion date following a long delay

Central Saanich Police prepared for afternoon shut-down of Highway 17

Sgt. Paul Brailey questions efficacy of protest

Wet’suwet’en supporters occupying legislature in Victoria set press conference

Demonstrators have been occupying the legislature since Monday despite injunction

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man charged with killing dog

Brandon Norman Bartlett, 38, appeared in court on Monday morning

VIDEO: Minister says consider coronavirus outbreak when planning for spring break

Foreign Affairs minister points to rash of new cases appearing in places like Italy and Iran

B.C. man who pulled a gun on off-duty cop gets two years in prison

Encounter also lead police to a home where 100 guns and explosives were found

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

COLUMN: Forestry no longer close to top of B.C.’s economy

Our reactions to a forestry downturn reflect the past, not the present

Caught on camera: Police release video of man who allegedly stole seaplane in Vancouver

Police say the man broke into the Harbour Air terminal and then got into one of the seaplanes in the harbour

51 health professionals send letter to Trudeau, Horgan panning northern B.C. pipeline

They point to studies about the health and climate change risks from pipeline

Fake meat and a latte? Starbucks adds Beyond Meat in Canada

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so

Most Read