Every community across Canada is being impacted by the opioid crisis, said Cariboo Prince George MP Todd Doherty.
“It has a profound effect on mental health challenges, homelessness and the real crime issues that we have in our communities,” he told Black Press Media. “It touches all of us and no one is immune.”
Eighty-one per cent of drug overdoses in 2020 were found to have fentanyl components in the drugs, said Doherty who co-chairs an opioid crisis working group within the Conservative caucus along with MP Foothills MP John Barlow.
Structured in the fall of 2020, the group has about 48 caucus members from all across Canada tasked with developing policy.
Doherty said the group has been pushing the Liberal government to show leadership, work with provincial counterparts, police agencies and Canada Border Services to make sure increased resources are being provided to deal with the illegal flow of fentanyl into the country.
“The sheer volume of this drug that is still flowing into our borders is shocking,” he said, noting the major drug bust that was done by Victoria police in December of last year recovered more than 12 kilograms of fentanyl which was the highest potency ever recovered in a drug bust.
Treatment and rehabilitation programs are needed as well as working with the medical community around the issue of prescribing of opioids for pain medication or pain treatment, Doherty noted, adding legislation is required to update regulating the chemicals and equipment used to make illicit drugs.
“It is not enough to just focus on one area,” he said.
B.C. Emergency Health Services confirmed the number of overdose calls continue to be on the increase in the Williams Lake area.
In 2016 there were 53, in 2017 there were 52, in 2018 there were 72, in 2019 there were 78 and in 2020 there were 114.
So far in 2021, there were 12 in January and seven in February, compared to the same months in 2020 when there were nine calls in January and six calls total in February.
In 2020, BCEHS paramedics responded to more than 27,000 overdose calls.
The total number of responses to overdoses of 27,067 represented an increase of 12 per cent over the previous year.
Paramedics are responding to an average of 74 overdose calls a day in B.C.