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Advocate wants the opioid crisis to be a bigger election issue

Last Updated Jun 15, 2017 at 4:12 pm PST

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Summary

Downtown Eastside worker pushes for drug crisis to be front and centre of 2017 election campaign

All three major parties make different promises to address opioid crisis in BC

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Over 920 people died as a result of opioid overdoses in BC last year. It was such a big problem that the provincial health officer declared the crisis a public health emergency. Yet, despite the growing concerns, it has been largely overshadowed by transit goodies and child care promises as British Columbians get ready to vote in the General Election.

“The election is just a diversion,” argues Sarah Blyth with the Overdose Prevention Society. She’s stunned by the lack of discussion from the leaders. “We’re dealing with people dying every day in the community and we think that it should be a huge issue, so it’s a little bit shocking that it’s not.”

So far, 117 people have died in Vancouver this year due to a drug overdose. Last month alone, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services say they received 683 overdose calls. “Kind of depressing for the community that we’re in,” adds Blyth. “It should be the biggest issue seeing as it’s the biggest health crisis I think that BC has ever had and it needs attention.”

If elected, the BC NDP is promising to develop a stand-alone Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction, while the BC Liberals are offering $12 million for youth addiction treatment beds and $2 million for the new BC Centre on Substance Use.

The BC Green Party says it will deal with the fentanyl crisis right away, if it wins the May 9th election. Its platform says the party will “develop an immediate response to the fentanyl crisis based on successful programs in Europe that invest in treatment on demand, drug substitution, early-warning monitoring systems, and coordinated response.”

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