May 24th, 2024

Eight years since B.C. declared public health emergency, toxic drug crisis rages on

By The Canadian Press on April 14, 2024.

B.C. Premier David Eby speaks during an announcement in Delta, B.C., on Monday, March 18, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – Eight years to the day after British Columbia declared a public health emergency, Premier David Eby says the toxic drug crisis has had a “catastrophic impact” on families and communities.

Eby says in a statement that toxic drug deaths have taken a toll on friends and loved ones of those who’ve been lost, and also on front-line workers who deal with the ongoing damage done by addiction and drug deaths.

He says the situation needs to be recognized as a “health crisis,” as his government tries to build and improve the mental-health and addictions-care system in the province.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says in the statement issued Sunday that the public-health emergency has strained the province in “unprecedented ways.”

Henry says drug users come from “all walks of life,” often dealing with trauma, and those who try to free themselves from addiction have to go through a recovery process that isn’t “linear” or hinged upon total abstinence.

The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users says in a statement that the anniversary comes as the crisis has “morphed into a toxic political issue,” and it, along with other drug-user associations, will hold a town hall Sunday to address the public-health emergency.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2024.

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