The overdose crisis was declared a public health emergency in B.C. in 2016, when death from overdose and drug poisoning became the leading cause of unnatural deaths in B.C. Year after year, the number of deaths continue to increase, and further worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the increasing toxicity of B.C.'s drug supply.
Public health officials, including the Provincial Health Officer and the Chief Coroner of B.C., have stated repeatedly that access to safe supply is key to saving lives, in addition to supervised consumption sites and decriminalization of personal possession of drugs.
Since 2016, more than 7000 people have lost their lives too soon. Every life lost is a real person, a family member, a friend, a loved one. This cannot go on any longer. The government must take bold action to save lives by following the public health advice to ensure access to safe supply, supervised consumption sites, treatment, and mental health supports, and decriminalize personal possession of drugs to end the stigma on drug use once and for all.
I have repeatedly risen in the House of Commons to draw attention to this urgent issue. There is no question that we need real leadership from the federal government to respond decisively to this public emergency. We need InSite to be further resourced. We need additional supervised injection sites across the country. We need increased support for first responders and frontline workers. We need effective and accessible opioid maintenance treatment options. We need a comprehensive and coordinated strategy between all levels of government to stop the loss of lives.
Families Deserve Answers.
I have a constituent whose daughter was an active, engaged straight A student.
When she was 14, she underwent four surgeries. The surgeries left her in much pain. To manage the pain, her doctors prescribed OxyContin, and with each surgery, the dosage increased. The pain persisted, but one day the doctors just stopped prescribing the meds. Now addicted to opioids and still in pain, this young woman found herself buying street drugs to manage, is homeless and struggling to survive. My constituent lives in fear that her daughter will die of an overdose.
Pharmaceutical companies have been profiteering from the pain of Canadians.
Now the opioid overdose crisis is claiming lives every day.
There is no doubt that this crisis unfolding right now in communities big and small right across Canada is nothing short of a national emergency. The suffering and damage this crisis is causing not just in the Downtown Eastside—the epicentre for the crisis—but throughout Vancouver East, and cities across BC and Canada. I am very grateful for the herculean efforts of first responders, frontline workers, medical practitioners, family members, peers and advocates who have worked and continue to work tirelessly to save lives in the midst of this terrible crisis.