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Minister’s statement on lives lost to poisoned drugs in February, March

April 18, 2023 at 8:09 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

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 the months of February and March 2023:

“In February and March, we lost 374 people to the toxic illicit drug supply. These were friends, family, neighbours and co-workers, and I mourn with British Columbians who are grieving their irreplaceable loss.

“First responders work tirelessly on the front lines to save lives, and I thank them for the crucial work they do in communities throughout B.C. The illicit drug supply has become more toxic, creating new dangers for people who use drugs and new challenges for those working hard to save lives.

“Our government is urgently working to expand supports and programs to deliver the integrated mental-health and addiction services that British Columbians need. There is no one-size-fits-all model, and we are continuing to build a system that provides the right care and support at the right time and place. That’s why we are making $1 billion in targeted investments through Budget 2023 to build a system of mental-health and addictions care that didn’t exist prior to 2017.

“Last week, I visited Red Fish Healing Centre – a health-care facility designed to help people with the most complex, concurrent mental-health and addiction challenges. We know the centre has already made an important impact since it first opened in 2021. That’s why we are bringing this crucial model of care to other regions of the province.

“We’re also making sure young people get the care and support they need, with a focus on early intervention. To support this work, our government will create 12 new Foundry centres in B.C., expanding on the 15 already operating and the eight currently in development. This important service makes it easier for young people and their families to access mental-health and addiction services, counselling, health care, peer support and social services in their community.

“The toxic drug crisis continues to devastate families and communities throughout the province, and I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything possible to turn the tide and end this public-health emergency. Our government won’t stop working until we have an integrated system of mental-health and addictions services in place that is available for people wherever and whenever they need it.” 

Learn More:

For updated actions on the drug poisoning response, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/escalated-drug-poisoning-response-actions-1 

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