Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, has released the following statement regarding the BC Coroners Service report on illicit drug toxicity deaths in August 2022:
“In August, we lost 169 people to the poisoned drug supply. These are devastating losses for families, friends, communities and loved ones. My heart is with everyone who had such a tragic loss.
“We are working hard to build a system of mental-health and substance-use care where there wasn’t one five years ago. We are offering innovative harm-reduction solutions, like prescribed safe supply – the only province in Canada to do so – and are adding new treatment beds and recovery services throughout B.C.
“We are also the only province in Canada to decriminalize people who use drugs, so that we can remove the stigma and shame associated with substance use. We agree addiction is a health-care issue, not a criminal one.
“In addition, we’re making sure the most vulnerable in our communities – people with overlapping mental-health and substance-use challenges who are at risk of homelessness – have a safe place to call home, where they can get the critical health and social services they need to stabilize their lives. We’re doing this through complex-care housing. Since January, we’ve announced 355 spaces in 12 communities and have already moved in more than 80 people.
“Complex-care housing is just one way our government is tackling the toxic drug crisis and working to build up a continuum of mental-health and substance-use care. Each week, we are adding new mental-health and substance-use services, and we will continue to add more.”
For updated actions on the drug poisoning response, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/escalated-drug-poisoning-response-actions-1
To learn more about complex care housing, visit: gov.bc.ca/complexcarehousing