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 July:
"Today’s release of the report on drug toxicity deaths for the month of July 2023 by the BC Coroners Service is a stark reminder that the ongoing toxic-drug crisis continues to have a devastating impact on communities across our province. We hold in our hearts the memories of the 198 people lost in July in British Columbia — not as mere statistics, but as individuals who deeply matter to their loved ones and communities.
“We will continue to work relentlessly to combat this ongoing public-health emergency with a comprehensive approach that addresses both addiction and the toxic-drug supply. We are working hard to keep people safe by providing them with care and support.
“We are implementing vital solutions to save lives and connect more people to help they need. Through historic investments, we are building an integrated system of care that offers hope and healing, while simultaneously tackling the root causes of this crisis. Our approach includes expanding treatment options with additional substance-use beds, increased access to medication-assisted treatment, and community counselling services throughout B.C. These initiatives have already saved thousands of lives and will remain central to our efforts.
“All communities and sectors in our province face the challenges of the toxic-drug crisis, each requiring a unique response. Today, I am holding a roundtable on mental health and substance use in the trades, where labour, industry, health and government are engaging in critical conversations to better understand the needs of people in these sectors and tailor resources to those in physically demanding jobs like construction. Programs like A Kit in Every Hand and the Tailgate Toolkit are prime examples of these targeted supports, focusing on the specific needs of those working in the trades. By refining our approach, we are reaffirming our commitment to effective solutions that meet the needs of different communities.
“The pain of loss weighs heavily on us. It is a somber reminder of the urgency to act with determination and compassion. No one is immune to the struggles of addiction, and we must continue to support those who are struggling. Every person matters, and every life is worth fighting for.
“I am committed to building a future where these tragedies are prevented. Our government stands strong in our determination to create a safer, healthier British Columbia for all as we remember those who were taken from us too soon. We remain dedicated to using every tool available to us to turn the tide in this crisis.”
Updated actions on the drug poisoning response: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/escalated-drug-poisoning-response-actions-1