Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, has released the following statement regarding the BC Coroners Service report on illicit drug-toxicity deaths in January 2023:
“Our province mourns the 211 British Columbians we lost in January. They left behind family and friends, who I know miss them every day.
“As we continue to lose loved ones, the effects of the toxic drug crisis remain as some of the most urgent challenges we face as a province.
“First responders, health care, front-line and community workers are changing lives and making a difference. We must continue to support their work.
“While the Province has been adding new treatment and recovery services, expanding overdose prevention and working to end the stigma around addiction, illicit substances have become more toxic.
“Budget 2023 invests more than $1 billion to accelerate our efforts to build an integrated system of care for mental-health and addiction services in our province. We are adding new treatment and recovery beds, creating new community recovery sites and opening the first-of-its-kind seamless model of addictions care at St. Paul’s Hospital.
“We know that in order to connect people to treatment and recovery, we must first keep them alive. That’s why we are continuing to invest and expand harm-reduction measures throughout the province to separate people from the toxic, unpredictable illicit drug supply. This year’s budget commits $184 million to support our response to toxic drugs, including adding more options for safe prescription alternatives, like diacetylmorphine.
“Our government is committed to supporting people. That’s been our priority since 2017 and continues to be our priority now. We are going to keep escalating our response to the toxic drug crisis by using all the tools in our toolbox to save lives and end this public-health emergency.”
For updated actions on the drug poisoning response, visit: