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Minister’s statement on lives lost to poisoned drugs in September

November 1, 2023 at 10:19 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 September 2023:

“It is with heavy heart that B.C. continues to lose loved ones throughout our communities. In September, we lost 175 people to the poisoned drug supply circulating in our province. Even though this number is down slightly from the same time last year and the previous month, we can’t forget we’re not just talking about statistics. We’re talking about irreplaceable people. Every day, families, friends and communities are navigating tides of deep grief and trauma in the wake of lost loved ones. No words can soften these losses.

“That’s why we continue to work tirelessly to expand access to prevention, treatment and recovery services, in particular for youth and young adults. For example, we recently announced that young people struggling with mental and physical health challenges and housing instability in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) will have access to more improved mental-health and substance-use supports with the launch of the first DTES Youth Outreach Centre.

“In addition, the Province is investing $3 million during the next three years to support the continued delivery of the YMCA’s Y mind and Medicine programs that teach teens and young adults strategies to cope with stress and anxiety. This, in addition to $74.9 million over three years to enhance Foundry services and add 12 new centres throughout the province, for a total of 35. We know that all these programs save lives and build safe and healthy communities.

“We also applaud the work of nurse prescribers throughout the province and the BC College of Nurses and Midwives, which has recently approved a permanent designation though the BC Centre on Substance Use that allows registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses to diagnose and treat clients with opioid use disorder. We know that innovative initiatives like this will save lives.

“As we continue to improve access to mental-health and addictions care in communities throughout B.C., we are also expanding access early intervention and prevention programs, harm reduction tools and resources, treatment and recovery services and complex-care housing. That’s why we invested $1 billion through Budget 2023, to urgently expand access to programs in all these areas.

“We strongly believe that people need access to the right care and supports, at the right time – care and supports that meet people where they are at, easily and quickly. If you or someone you care about is struggling and unsure of where to turn for support or information, you can find helpful resources and services online:

“As the toxic-drug crisis continues to devastate families and communities throughout B.C., we remain firm in our commitment to end this public-health emergency. There is more to do, and we won’t stop working until we turn this crisis around.”

Learn More:

Updated actions on the drug poisoning response:

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