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More supports needed as overdose crisis worsens on fifth anniversary of public health emergency

More supports needed as overdose crisis worsens on fifth anniversary of public health emergency

VICTORIA (April 14, 2021) – As British Columbia marks the tragic fifth anniversary since the opioid overdose public health emergency was first declared, the BC Liberals are calling on the provincial government to finally deliver a seamless mental health and addictions system, complete with affordable and accessible treatment options.

“Tragically, more than 7,000 British Columbians have lost their lives to an overdose since the public health emergency was first declared in 2016, and our condolences go out to the families who are left mourning loved ones,” said Trevor Halford, BC Liberal Critic for Mental Health and Addictions. “The weight of parallel pandemics has been severe throughout our province and more lives have been lost to overdoses in the past year than any other since the crisis was first declared. This government has been in power for four out of the five years of the crisis and, tragically, we are still left waiting for them to deliver a comprehensive mental health and addictions system to help save more lives.”

The most recent data from the B.C. Coroners Service shows B.C. recorded an average of 5.5 deaths per day in February 2021, demonstrating the continuing trend of rising numbers of overdose deaths over the last year. Overdose deaths in 2020 were up 74 per cent over 2019.

“The overdose crisis has only continued to worsen over the last year as greater isolation, an increasingly toxic drug supply and reduced services continue to have a severe impact on British Columbians,” said Halford. “John Horgan and the NDP needs to urgently commit to a plan for a comprehensive mental health and addictions system – one that isn’t just reactionary or offering services that are too little too late. It isn’t enough to just invest in harm reduction and safe supply, we need a system that also invests in prevention, treatment, and enforcement and works to ensure people have access to appropriate care and supports necessary for recovery.”

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