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FORSETH – Time has run out for talk; it’s time to act on B.C.’s drug crisis

February 9, 2022 (Public Safety and Solicitor General): “… Time has run out for research and discussion. It is time to take action.”

Aug. 31, 2021: “On International Overdose Awareness Day …we remember loved ones lost to this terrible poisoned drug crisis … today’s report from the BC Coroner’s Service shows just how devastating it’s been … We will do everything we can to turn this drug poisoning crisis around.”

HERE’S A SOBERING THOUGHT … illicit drug toxicity is the leading cause of unnatural death in British Columbia — second only to cancers in terms of years of life lost (Public Safety and Solicitor General). In just the first 6 months of 2022 there were 1,095 drug deaths recorded – 182.5 per month. In the last full year of data (2021) there were 2,224 deaths – 185.3 / month.

Now consider this.

On average there are around 182 motor vehicle occupants killed in crashes across B.C. every year (B.C. Injury research and prevention unit – https://www.injuryresearch.bc.ca/injury-priorities/transport-related-injuries/motor-vehicle-occupants).

Let me repeat that … 182 deaths PER YEAR from motor vehicle crashes … or basically the same number of British Columbians dying EVERY SINGLE MONTH from a toxic/ poisoned drug supply.

And from 2012 to 2021 drug toxicity deaths topped TEN THOUSAND (10,579) – B.C. Coroners Service.

Month after month, year after year, hundreds of lives are lost, and what do we get from the B.C. NDP government … from the Attorney General, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, and from the Minter of Public Safety and Solicitor General?

Month after month all that gets churned out are ‘talking points’. Talking points, about what they are going to do. The Coroner, the Minister of Public Safety, and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions spew exactly the same words OVER and OVER again … and if you don’t believe me, here are just 18 examples from over the past year and a half:

… These are devastating losses for families, friends, and loved ones … We are working hard to build a system of mental-health and substance-use care …

… we’ve been working urgently to build a system of mental-health and substance-use care that works for everyone … There is more to do.

… this new data that will help inform our ongoing work to confront the toxic drug and housing crises from every angle …

… these are devastating losses for families, friends, communities and loved ones … We are working hard to build a system of mental-health and substance-use care …

… our government is tackling the toxic drug crisis and working to build up a continuum of mental-health and substance-use care …

… we’ve been working urgently to build a system of mental-health and substance-use care that works for everyone … we continue to expand much-needed harm-reduction services … There is more to do …

… every person who died this year due to the poisoned drug supply was special and important and represents a deep loss to our communities … We continue to confront this emergency from every angle, making the large, systemic changes necessary to turn the tide on this crisis …

… despite unprecedented work to turn the tide on the crisis, this trend tragically did not continue in May … We are deepening our investment in people and innovative solutions to turn this crisis around …

… There is no magic bullet to end the drug poisoning crisis … These actions are vital as we build a comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care that includes harm reduction and treatment and recovery …

… My heart is with the families and friends who are grieving … Our government remains committed to doing what it takes to turn the tide on this crisis … there is more work to do, and we won’t stop until we turn this crisis around …

… 174 lives lost in February due to the toxic drug crisis. My thoughts and sympathies go out to all the families who have lost a loved one … We know there is more to do, and we won’t stop working until we turn this crisis around …

… … report confirms that the work underway by our government is crucial to saving lives and ending the toxic drug crisis and that more work is needed … There’s much more to do, and we won’t stop working until we turn this crisis around.

… we must do more to combat the illicit toxic drug crisis, and our government is working hard every day to end this public-health emergency …

… … There is more to do along the entire continuum of care to end the poisoned drug crisis … We won’t stop working until we turn this crisis around …

… It is long past time to end the chaos and devastation in our communities resulting from the flourishing illicit drug market …

… The number of people who died from the toxic drug supply last year is unacceptable and we must do more to prevent this tragic loss of life …

… we continue to do everything we can to turn this drug poisoning crisis around … these measures will save lives. And we are committed to do much more until no person is left behind …

… government will continue expanding life-saving resources across the continuum of care, from prescribed safer supply to more treatment beds … we are deepening our investment in people and innovative solutions to turn this crisis around …

Just six days ago (Nov. 1, 2022) the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Sheila Malcolmson, released the following statement regarding the Select Standing Committee on Health’s report on the toxic drug crisis – and ONCE AGAIN, we saw the same words being spoken:

“The poisoned drug supply is taking the lives of our loved ones … We must end this tragic loss of life … recommendations from the Special Committee on Health on the illicit drug toxicity and overdose crisis reaffirm the tools our government is using to tackle the public-health emergency in B.C. … there’s more to do to tackle this public-health emergency. We will not stop working until we turn this crisis around and people in our province can get the help they need.”

AND NOW TODAY comes the latest in monthly output from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. In part the Ministry’s release to the media stated:

“In September, 171 people were lost to the toxic drug crisis. So many have been profoundly affected by this terrible crisis … we are determined to end this tragic loss of life …

“… Our government is making historic investments to build a system of mental-health and addiction care from the ground up …

“We won’t stop working until all British Columbians can get the help they need, when they need it.”

It is long past obvious that the work this government is doing is NOT working, and while they have been determined (as they say) to end this crisis and loss of life, it’s not happening.

Instead of a patchwork of services being added across the province in dribs and drabs, communities that have been desperately asking for access to new drug treatment and recovery options, and mental health services, should be receiving them as soon as they can be rolled out.

IT’S A FACT:

Recovery beds, counselling and mental health services need to be available immediately upon someone’s decision they are ready to accept them.

These services need to be made available in areas well away from areas of rampant drug use and availability – and that includes clean and safe housing during and after receiving services.

Opportunity for education and training, so that individuals have the best chances for success, need to be provided.

Long-term follow up counselling and psychiatric care, to prevent a relapse, need to also be readily available.

This IS what’s needed to provide an … investment in people and innovative solutions to turn this crisis around … a system of mental-health and addiction care from the ground up … the help they need, when they need it … to end the chaos and devastation … and to … continue to confront this emergency from every angle.

In other words, all of the things this NDP government has been talking about doing for years.

Today’s latest B.C. Coroners report on illicit drug toxicity deaths for September 2022 told us what we’ve been hearing over and over again, as another 171 lives were lost to the toxic drug crisis.

How many more of these announcements are we prepared to see and hear before we demand long overdue action be taken?

Time has run out for research and discussion. It is time to act and do everything we can to turn this drug poisoning crisis around.

Alan Forseth is a Kamloops resident. For 40 years he has been active, in a number of capacities, in local, provincial and federal politics. His blog is Thoughts on B.C. Politics and More.

About Mel Rothenburger (9224 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on FORSETH – Time has run out for talk; it’s time to act on B.C.’s drug crisis

  1. Mental health services, counseling and psychiatric care are very dubiously the answer. I have personally experienced a bit of counseling and without hesitation I can tell you there were no benefits despite the hefty costs. Extrapolate that to the hundreds of people in need and you tell me how much that is going to cost and you tell me, by-the-way, if there is any proof of tangible benefits. Providing safe, clean, hospitable housing, food and services including employment training and ongoing support…sure. Are you prepared for the level of taxation required to pay for all those “ideas” you have Mr? Addiction is the result of trauma and human neglect.

    • HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS are now being spent, in a patchwork system, every year in BC. Meantime the result is 1000s dying annually, an unavailability of recovery beds for those ready to try and kick their addictions, a lack of available counsellors, and disgusting SRO’s in the middle of drug zones.

      You’re right …in many cases addiction IS the result of trauma and neglect. So, are you prepared for the government to continue with the disastrous way they’ve been doing things, or like me, do you wanted to demand better?

    • R Marcus Lowe // November 7, 2022 at 7:50 PM // Reply

      Insightful. There is an underlying reason to drug-suicide and the problem will not go away until this is dealt with. Everything else is Cover-Your-Ass bullshit. I say the way forward is to stop lying: that goes for the RCMP (I know), Police, Schools, and Medical systems, https://www.facebook.com/hurtbycops/ . Currently people are able, if they really want, to speak up about the medical system by going to the conference of ministers in Vancouver BC. I am cynical.

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