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

April 5, 2024 at 1:03 pm  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 February 2024:

“February’s report from the BC Coroners Service marks the loss of 177 people to toxic drugs – a testament to the relentless challenges we face in this crisis. Behind each number was a person who loved and was loved, whose life was unfairly cut short.

“To the families and friends who have faced the unimaginable, and to the communities that have been pierced time and again by these tragedies, know that your grief is seen and shared. I have been moved by the stories and struggles I’ve heard, by the love and the pain in your voices. As we approach the eighth anniversary of this public-health emergency, we are reminded that our commitment to each person’s right to life and safety remains as firm as ever.

“In this moment of reflection, we also turn our gratitude toward the front-line workers whose dedication shines as a beacon of hope. Doctors, nurses, first responders, peer support workers and mental-health and addiction counsellors have saved countless lives and helped connect hundreds of people to care. Despite the complex and unpredictable challenges of the toxic-drug crisis, they continue to show up every day with compassion and positivity in their heart, ready to help others. Their resilience and empathy are vital in our collective efforts to heal and safeguard our communities.

“This crisis isn’t about moral judgments; it’s a serious health emergency that needs our ongoing attention and care. We’re stepping up to make sure people can get the support they need to stay safe. We’re reinforcing last year’s historic $1-billion commitment with an additional $215 million in Budget 2024. This investment will help us continue to strengthen our system of care from top to bottom and help us build a path to recovery that’s wide enough for all, acknowledging the varied needs of those we’re here to serve.

“Our province’s strength is the people who live here, our empathy and our willingness to act. I implore all British Columbians to never lose sight of this. This is more important now than ever before, as we approach the sombre eighth anniversary of this crisis. 

“We need the continued support of British Columbians to save lives and turn the tide on this terrible crisis. Our approach is about ensuring access to care for all, so we can protect those still with us. Let’s all commit to a future where help is always at hand, and where everyone has the chance to live a full and healthy life.”

Learn More:

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

For a list of mental-health and addictions resources and services, visit: https://helpstartshere.gov.bc.ca

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