Re: toxic drug deaths: ‘Look out for one another’

Published on September 29, 2021 by Contributed

Sheila Malcolmson

A statement from Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, about the BC Coroners Service’s report on toxic drug deaths:

This year continues to be incredibly sad as the number of people dying by toxic drugs persists at a tragic rate. My thoughts are with everyone who is mourning the loss of someone they love.

While we have been adding services and supports in an unprecedented way, B.C. is facing a rising tide of need.

A lot of work is happening on the ground to make the large, systemic changes necessary to truly turn the tide on this crisis. We must confront this emergency from every angle to address both immediate and longer-term needs.

So, while toxic drugs are circulating, we are asking people to look out for one another and help keep our friends and family members who use drugs alive. Knowing how to access an overdose prevention or safe consumption site and carrying naloxone can save someone’s life today, and we are continuing to add more overdose prevention services.

The big changes we’re working on will save many lives in the longer-term. This includes more and varied services that address the root causes of addiction, decriminalization to stop the stigma against people who use drugs and a prescribed safer supply to separate people from poisoned street drugs.

We will get there. We are making the right investments to make this happen. There is much more to do and time is of the essence. With each day that passes, we lose another six people to this crisis. There is not a moment to waste.

As the minister of Mental Health and Addictions, I feel the weight of the province’s grief and frustration. Almost every person in B.C. knows someone who died because of poisoned drugs. I will keep listening to people with lived and living experience, keep working with our partners and stakeholders, and keep pushing forward to make the changes that people’s lives depend on.