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MLA’S CORNER: Escalating number of drug-related deaths across B.C.

It’s time for government to step up and prevent future heartbreak and death
Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Williams Lake Tribune image)

Recently updated figures show that in the last 10 years, there have been 11,670 deaths across B.C. related to the overdose crisis. With a staggering 1,095 deaths already recorded for the first six months of 2022, the situation is not getting any better.

The overdose crisis was officially declared a public health emergency in 2016, and since then, there has continued to be a steady escalation in the harm caused by toxic drugs. We have watched the number grow from an average of 2.7 deaths per day to six deaths per day in 2022.

Many individuals face trouble accessing harm reduction and encounter lengthy waiting times for treatment and recovery services. The current government is clearly not doing enough — the people of British Columbia deserve more.

People are dying at an alarming rate, and watching the crisis continue to get worse is disheartening. The government has missed the deadline for every critical recommendation to date as set out by the BC Coroners Service Death Review Panel earlier this year. Not only have these urgent recommendations been disregarded, but the validity of the expert recommendations has not even been accepted.

The report identified the areas experiencing the highest number of deaths as Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria. However, when looking at the rate per 100,000 individuals, our region continues to see a disproportionate number of deaths, with an average of 10 more than the provincial rate. It is clear there is a need for a complete province-wide strategy that will address the crisis in every region of British Columbia.

After six years of this crisis being labelled a public health emergency, B.C. families who have experienced unimaginable anguish and loss as a result of this crisis are looking to us to take action. It’s time for government step up and prevent future heartbreak and death.

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