Smithers Interior News Editorial

Smithers Interior News Editorial

Where is the urgency?

It’s been six years since B.C. declared public health emergency, but drug deaths keep accelerating

Where is the urgency?

Last week, the BC Coroners Service released its grim statistics for January reporting 207 more deaths from toxic drug poisoning.

That marked the fourth consecutive month in which more than 200 people lost their lives to the illicit drug supply.

The news was preceded by a report from a special death review panel that made 23 recommendations.

Among them:

1. Ensure a safer drug supply to those at risk of dying.

2. Develop a 30/60/90-day Illicit Drug Toxicity Action Plan with ongoing monitoring.

3. Establish an evidence-based continuum of care.

Here is the thing, though. These recommendations are nothing new.

READ MORE: Lack of safe supply and evidence-based care at the core of B.C. drug deaths: report

Experts have been saying the same things for years.

Harm reduction. Decriminalization. Safe Supply.

We know what we need to do.

Why don’t we have the political will to do it?

It has been six years since B.C. first declared a public health emergency.

We’ve had six years of desperate calls for action on this issue and yet 2021 was the deadliest year yet.

In February the Coroners Service reported 2,224 deaths in 2021, a 26 per cent jump from the previous year and more than double 2016 (991).

November and December 2021 were the deadliest months on record with 210 and 215 deaths respectively.

The total for last year alone was almost equal to the number from 2011 to 2016. During that five-year period, 2,788 British Columbians lost their lives.

We don’t need more calls to action.

We need action.

Urgent, immediate, meaningful action.

We don’t need more excuses.

If the federal government is dragging its feet, B.C. needs to take matters into its own hands and let the courts sort it out later.

Come on B.C., we are better than this.

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