(THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

(THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

B.C. VOTES 2020: How each party plans to address the opioid crisis

The pandemic has exacerbated the complex issues intertwined with addiction

As B.C. deals with dueling health crisis, provincial party leaders have spent the last few weeks navigating questions on how they plan on combating and resolving both the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid crisis.

The pandemic has exacerbated the complex issues intertwined with addiction – from mental health issues due to social isolation to stress from turbulent employment and affordability – leading to B.C. seeing some of its largest death tolls due to illicit street drugs, which have grown increasingly toxic in the past few months.

ALSO READ: B.C. records 127 fatal overdoses in September, roughly 4 each day

Here’s a look at how each party plans to address B.C.’s first provincial health emergency:

BC Liberals

Former provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall declared overdose deaths in B.C. a public health emergency in mid-2016, when the BC Liberals were in power.

Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson has pledged to focus on the treatment step of the four-pillars to curbing addiction by increasing program capacity, as well as introduce legislation that would “safely and ethically help young people with addictions into treatment.”

The Liberals say they would also increase mental health supports in public secondary schools, such as registered psychiatric nurses and look into funding discrimination which disqualifies some abstinence-based treatment programs.

Lastly, Wilkinson has said he’d want to implement a provincial prescription-drug monitoring program to prevent addiction with early referrals to specialist care and treatment options.

BC Greens

Leader Sonia Furstenau has said she’d like to scale up safe supply – a solution supported by health officials provincially and federally but not in the plan for the Trudeau government at this time.

Scaling up would include funding a wider range of safe supply resources, including implementing more safe opioid dispensing machines, as well as increasing harm reduction funding. The Greens say they would also “strongly pursue” decriminalization with the federal government.

Furstenau has also pledged to support the amending the Police Act to de-prioritize simple possession – a plan recommended by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and supported by police chiefs across the country.

BC NDP

The NDP were the first government in Canada to create a ministry dedicated to mental health and addiction, and have pledged to continue to implement their 10-year mental health plan. This includes expanding the number of treatment beds, focusing on mental health in kids and young adults through Foundry youth centres, and expanding counselling access to rural areas of the province.

In addition, Leader John Horgan has pledged to partner with WorkSafeBC to develop pain-management alternatives for those who suffer from workplace injuries and develop chronic pain.

Horgan also said he wants to bolster police response to the toxic drug supply by supporting the crack down on distributors and high-level dealers.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

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

Just Posted

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former Smithereen frustrated with COVID-deniers following horrific bout with the disease

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

Pellet plants deal with a lot of combustible materials. (File photo)
“Fire-related event” at Houston pellet plant injures three, shuts down operations

Rumours of an associated explosion cannot be confirmed at this time

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Most Read