Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris and Minister of Health Terry Lake, issued the following joint statement today in response to the BC Coroners Service updated numbers on overdose fatalities.
“According to statistics just released by the BC Coroners Service, November saw the most tragic number of deaths so far this year. They show we must continue to work together as a health and public-safety system, as a province and as a society to do everything in our power to prevent as many of these deaths as we can. The overdose crisis is taking a great toll on the families and frontline workers who are directly affected.
“Government and numerous partners have put an enormous amount of effort to stem the alarming increase. We must redouble our efforts, because behind each of those numbers is a person with friends and family who are forever impacted.
“With the help of our partners, B.C. has recently moved forward with several new initiatives. We have talked about Terry’s recent tour of the Mobile Medical Unit and an overdose prevention site that opened last week, where he spoke with staff who shared their experiences of reversing overdoses with naloxone and the opportunity these sites provide in connecting people to treatments and services. It’s impossible to know how many lives they have saved, and we can’t thank them and people on the frontlines throughout the province enough for the work they’re doing.
“Overdose prevention sites will continue to be set up in high-risk communities across the province. As well, we’ll continue to improve access to treatments, expand the Take Home Naloxone Program, establish additional supervised consumption services and intercept the flow of these fatal drugs onto our streets in B.C.
“We also acknowledge that in addition to these more immediate harm-reduction and public-safety measures, we need to continue to increase access to a range of additional treatment beds and supports. We are well on track with opening our promised 500 new beds , and expect to have opened 400 new beds by the end of January, with the remainder coming on-line by March 31. But it’s clear additional steps are needed, which is why we are also looking at adding some surge capacity in treatment beds and other treatment resources as soon as possible. Because beds alone are not going to solve this – and for many people beds may not be medically the most appropriate path for someone seeking help to recover from opioid addiction – we continue broader work in this area through the BC Centre on Substance Use to improve the effectiveness of the whole treatment system in B.C.
“A lot more action has been taken just in the past few weeks, and we know we still have a lot work ahead of us. The statistics released by the BC Coroners Service today show this work has never been more important, and we will continue to do everything we can here in B.C to combat this crisis.”