A provincial health committee is asking for the public’s input on drug toxicity and the overdose crisis as the death rate due to illicit drugs appears to be declining, ever so slightly.
In April of this year, the BC Coroners Service reported that there were 161 suspected deaths due to illicit drugs, the second highest number of deaths ever recorded in the month of April. The highest reported was in 2021 when there were 186 deaths across the province.
This latest figure marks a 13 per cent decrease compared to April, 2021, and a two per cent decrease from the 165 deaths the province saw in March, 2022.
This still equates to about 5.4 deaths per day, 73 per cent between the ages of 30 to 59, and 76 per cent of those being men.
In Maple Ridge there have been 15 deaths in 2022 due to illicit drugs between January and April. In 2021 Maple Ridge saw 45 fatalities, the most recorded since 2012, a year during which there were only five fatalities.
Now, the Parliamentary Select Standing Committee on Health wants to hear from the public. The committee began holding public hearings in May and will continue to hear from organizations and individuals, including government representatives, public health officials, experts, people with lived and living experience and other stakeholders.
“Recognizing the urgency of the overdose crisis, the committee began its work immediately in order to better understand the complex issues that have led to the current situation in our province. Many key organizations and individuals have already provided valuable information, but we also want to ensure that British Columbians across the province have an opportunity to participate in this process and provide us with their input,”said deputy chair Shirley Bond.
The committee is looking for input about: what actions the government should take to address the ongoing overdose and drug toxicity crisis; how should government and institutions improve services, support, and resources in response to the ongoing overdose and drug toxicity crisis, including, but not limited to, prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery; and what should be done to address the harm done by the increasingly toxic and unpredictable illicit supply of drugs.
“This overdose crisis has been tragic for so many individuals, families and front-line workers in British Columbia,” said committee chair Niki Sharma.
“This committee wants to ensure that all British Columbians have an opportunity to share their perspectives on the response to this crisis. Their input will be critical to forming our recommendations to government,” she added.
Comments and recommendations will be accepted until 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 5.
To make a written submission go to consultations.leg.bc.ca/Submission/Create?cons=Health2022.
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