Supplies like clean needles are available at the Overdose Prevention Society’s safe-injection site. (John Lehmann/Photo for The Washington Post)

First Nation chiefs call for B.C. to declare state of emergency over opioid crisis

Union of BC Indian Chiefs says the overdose epidemic hits Indigenous people especially hard

Indigenous leaders in B.C. are calling for the province to escalate its response to the opioid crisis in First Nations communities and recognize it as a state of emergency similar to during floods and wildfires.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs this week said overdose deaths are devastating its people. The most recent data, released more than a year ago by the BC Coroners Service, found that Indigenous people are three times more likely to die from an overdose than the rest of British Columbians.

“While the opioid crisis has affected every region of Canada, British Columbia tops the four regions hardest hit, with First Nations people facing the brunt of the impacts,” said Judy Wilson, the union’s secretary-treasurer.

The B.C. government, under the BC Liberal Party in 2016, declared the sudden increase in overdoses the province’s first-ever public health emergency, allowing more immediate data collection of fatal overdoses and quicker responses on the frontlines.

READ MORE: First Nations people in B.C. three times more likely to die of overdose

Wilson said First Nations people are twice as likely to be dispensed an opioid than non-First Nations, and overdoses are reported every two hours on some reserves.

“These statistics are completely unacceptable, and B.C. must immediately act or be held accountable and liable for their inaction.”

The council is also urging the province to launch a public inquiry into influences of international organized crime, including money laundering, on the crisis.

The Ministry of Health has not yet returned a request for comment.

READ MORE: B.C. moves closer to money laundering public inquiry; feds vow ‘crack down’


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Witset in lockdown following three confirmed COVID-19 cases

Band office, health centre and KWES facilities closed until further notice

Meet the 10-year-old girl who grew a pineapple in northern B.C.

Emily Atkins discovers it takes a lot of patience to grow tropical fruit in a temperate climate

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

UPDATE: Search continues for Thomas (Tommy) Dennis missing from near Kitwanga

Tommy Dennis was last seen Sept 16 wearing blue jeans, black cap, rubber boots, grey checked sweater

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

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

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Most Read