(THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

(THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

B.C. VOTES 2020: How each party plans to address the opioid crisis

The pandemic has exacerbated the complex issues intertwined with addiction

As B.C. deals with dueling health crisis, provincial party leaders have spent the last few weeks navigating questions on how they plan on combating and resolving both the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid crisis.

The pandemic has exacerbated the complex issues intertwined with addiction – from mental health issues due to social isolation to stress from turbulent employment and affordability – leading to B.C. seeing some of its largest death tolls due to illicit street drugs, which have grown increasingly toxic in the past few months.

ALSO READ: B.C. records 127 fatal overdoses in September, roughly 4 each day

Here’s a look at how each party plans to address B.C.’s first provincial health emergency:

BC Liberals

Former provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall declared overdose deaths in B.C. a public health emergency in mid-2016, when the BC Liberals were in power.

Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson has pledged to focus on the treatment step of the four-pillars to curbing addiction by increasing program capacity, as well as introduce legislation that would “safely and ethically help young people with addictions into treatment.”

The Liberals say they would also increase mental health supports in public secondary schools, such as registered psychiatric nurses and look into funding discrimination which disqualifies some abstinence-based treatment programs.

Lastly, Wilkinson has said he’d want to implement a provincial prescription-drug monitoring program to prevent addiction with early referrals to specialist care and treatment options.

BC Greens

Leader Sonia Furstenau has said she’d like to scale up safe supply – a solution supported by health officials provincially and federally but not in the plan for the Trudeau government at this time.

Scaling up would include funding a wider range of safe supply resources, including implementing more safe opioid dispensing machines, as well as increasing harm reduction funding. The Greens say they would also “strongly pursue” decriminalization with the federal government.

Furstenau has also pledged to support the amending the Police Act to de-prioritize simple possession – a plan recommended by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and supported by police chiefs across the country.

BC NDP

The NDP were the first government in Canada to create a ministry dedicated to mental health and addiction, and have pledged to continue to implement their 10-year mental health plan. This includes expanding the number of treatment beds, focusing on mental health in kids and young adults through Foundry youth centres, and expanding counselling access to rural areas of the province.

In addition, Leader John Horgan has pledged to partner with WorkSafeBC to develop pain-management alternatives for those who suffer from workplace injuries and develop chronic pain.

Horgan also said he wants to bolster police response to the toxic drug supply by supporting the crack down on distributors and high-level dealers.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two people were sent to hospital after a fire was discovered in a north Pitt Meadows home just before the lunch hour on Sunday, (Nov. 29, 2020). (Shane MacKichan/Special to The News)
Couple burned fighting fire in their Pitt Meadows house

Two occupants were transported to hospital while firefighters battle a blaze in a Harris Road home

(Black Press Media files)
‘Potentially damaging’ winds expected in Metro Vancouver

Wind is expected to pick up late Sunday night

Supt. Jennifer Hyland is the officer in charge of the Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment. (The News/files)
Ridge Meadows RCMP release new strategic plan

Plan details what the force will be focused on for the next three years

The new business park at 12835 Lilley Drive in East Maple Ridge has five live/work units on site. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)
Maple Ridge’s newest business park tries to set itself apart from competition

More live-work units, green features make it more than a concrete box, developer says

There were 114 homeless people counted in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows as part of the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count in March. (The News/files)
More than 100 homeless counted in March snapshot across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Metro Vancouver Homeless Count has been taking place since 2002

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)
Updated: Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Calvary church was fined $2,300 for defying provincial order

The Abbotsford Police Department is investigating a shooting on Adair Avenue on Saturday night. (Photo by Dale Klippenstein)
Drive-by shooting in Abbotsford targeted home with young children, police say

Investigators believe home was mistakenly targeted by assailants

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

Most Read