The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school board has still not heard a response to its request to have Narcan kits in schools, to protect students from opioid overdose.
“A health crisis was declared in April,” said Trustee Susan Carr. “Are we acting like there’s a crisis?”
At its Oct. 19 meeting, the board supported Carr’s motion to ask the ministers of health, education and children and families to create provincial standards around training and administering the opioid antidote Naloxone in schools.
Carr, who also heads Maple Ridge’s Strong Kids Team, proposes having a Narcan kit in every middle and high school in the province. With the kits ranging between $30 and $50 apiece, she said the cost would only run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
She likened it to having EpiPens, and staff trained in their use, for children with severe allergies.
“It’s something we hope we never have to use, but it’s there just in case,” she said.
At the Nov. 16 board meeting, Carr was frustrated that board has not even had acknowledgement that their request has been received by senior government.
She has requested a meeting with Prime Minister Christy Clark to address the issue.
“It’s go big or go home,” she said, adding that people’s lives are at stake.
Carr said it is just a matter of time before a student suffers a fentanyl overdose while at school.
Her viewpoint was supported by the stats about overdoses released this week – they are on the rise across the province, and are unabated in Maple Ridge.
So far 622 people have died from drug overdoses in the province in the first 10 months of 2015. That is up more than 50 per cent from 397 over the same period last year.
The Fraser Health Authority had the highest number of fatal overdoses at 211.
Maple Ridge has had 24 deaths in 2016, compared with 28 for all of last year.
Mayor Nicole Read said senior government needs to do more to stop the distribution of fentanyl, establish more safe consumption sites in the Valley, and support efforts to keep kids away from drugs.
The ultimate solution, she said, is in the work of groups like the Strong Kids Team.
“We continue to lobby for upstream care, in order to keep our youth away from addiction and homelessness,” said Read.
As the province deals with the fentanyl crisis, city governments are on the front lines of the addiction issue, and she sees social connection as a key antidote.
“We need to do more to wrap support around our kids,” she said. “It’s clear to me there’s a lot of kids in our community who need more.
Fentanyl remains present in a high number of illicit drug deaths. From Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, 2016, fentanyl was detected in a total of 332 cases, or about 60 per cent of all illicit drug deaths. That is almost triple the number of fentanyl-detected deaths for the same period last year.