Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, has released the following statement regarding the BC Coroners Service’s report on illicit drug toxicity deaths for April 2022:
“My heart grieves for the 161 people who lost their lives to the poisoned drug supply in April. Almost everyone in B.C. has been affected by these tragedies, or knows someone who has. People on the front line are making heroic efforts to save lives. And yet, tragically, we continue to lose lives at historic levels due to the increasingly toxic drug supply.
“One of the reasons that people continue to lose their lives is the stigma that surrounds addictions and substance use. Shame and fear keep many people from accessing the care they need. The fear of being criminalized has led many people to hide addiction and use drugs alone – and using alone can mean dying alone.
“That’s why decriminalization is a critical step in B.C.’s fight against the toxic drug crisis. It will break down the barriers that prevent people from getting life-saving supports, while interrupting the cycle of drug criminalization and poverty. Because substance use is a public health matter – not a criminal justice one.
“There is no magic bullet to end the drug poisoning crisis. But decriminalizing people who use drugs is essential to stemming the tide of the toxic drug crisis, and to reducing the stigma around drug use. These actions are vital as we build a comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care that includes harm reduction and treatment and recovery for British Columbians.”
For a factsheet on the updated actions on the drug poisoning response, visit: http://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/escalated-drug-poisoning-response-actions-1