The BC Coroners Service released a report on Thursday, Sept. 15 providing the numbers of illicit drug toxicity deaths in B.C. for the first half of 2022, stating that in just July of this year, the province saw 192 fatal drug overdoses.
Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, maintained that this issue is something the government is continuing to tackle with all their resources.
“Since 2017, we’ve been working urgently to build a system of mental-health and substance-use care that works for everyone,” said Malcolmson in a press release. “In the past five years, we’ve opened more than 300 new adult and youth treatment and recovery beds. More than 3,200 treatment beds are available in British Columbia.”
While the entire province had 1,297 drug overdose deaths from Jan. 1 to July 31, 2022, Maple Ridge township has personally seen 25 of these deaths.
On a per-person death rate, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows come in at 31 out of 75 local health areas, with a rate of 42.6 deaths per 100,000 people.
According to Trevor Halford, Official Opposition Critic for Mental Health and Addictions, this continued rise in overdose deaths is a direct result of the NDP government failing to take enough action.
“Despite this crisis being declared a public health emergency more than six years ago, the situation continues to worsen under the NDP government’s watch,” said Halford in an official statement.
“Made worse, the NDP continue to disregard the urgent recommendations of the BC Coroners Service Death Review Panel from earlier this year and they have yet to even accept the validity of the expert recommendations.”
The Fraser North health services delivery area, which includes Burnaby, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody, saw the fourth highest number of overdose deaths in the month of July with 14 cases.
Malcolmson confirmed that the B.C. government is not taking the situation lightly and will continue to work to try and reduce the number of overdose deaths in the coming months and years.
“There is more to do,” she said. “I am committed to continuing to expand and evolve our government’s response to this public-health emergency to turn the tide and save lives.”
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