(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

Josie Osborne was sworn into the Legislature virtually on Nov. 24. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne named minister of municipal affairs

The position was previously held by Selina Robinson, who is the province’s new finance minister

A sign at the entrance to Ty-Histanis asks visitors to stay out of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Westerly file photo)
Leaders from Tofino-Ucluelet region urge tourists to stay away for two weeks

The West Coast is pausing its winter tourist season temporarily due to rising COVID-19 numbers

This large Spruce was one of several trees that came crashing down around CARE’s animal shelter during Nov. 17’s windstorm. (CARE Network photo)
Funding and fosters needed after storm destroys fencing at Tofino-Ucluelet animal shelter

The damage forced an evacuation of the facility, which was sheltering five animals at the time.

Tourists are being asked to postpone their non-essential trips to Tofino as COVID-19 cases rise across Vancouver Island, but at least one accommodation provider is offering conflicting messaging. (Westerly file photo)
Victoria woman says Tofino Airbnb host encouraged travel despite provincial restrictions

“The only way I would get a refund is if she would be able to rebook the suite for that weekend.”

A sign outside Ucluelet’s Blue Room on Monday morning advises patrons that the restaurant has gone back to take-out only. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Some Ucluelet restaurants heading back to take-out only as COVID-19 concerns rise

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel urges residents to be respectul of business owners’ decisions.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The Klahoose First Nation village on Cortes Island is under lockdown until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 test. Photo courtesy Kevin Peacey.
Cortes Island First Nation community locked down due to positive COVID-19 test

Klahoose First Nation has had one positive test, one other potential case

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Ladysmith’s 1st Avenue will be lit up until January 15. (Cole Schisler photo)
Light Up parade a no-go, but Ladysmith’s streets are still all aglow

Although the tradition Light Up this year was cancelled, folks can still enjoy the holiday lights

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Gracie couldn’t stop nursing from her previous owner’s goats which was problematic given the goats were trying to be dried out to breed. Gracie now lives at A Home for Hooves. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Cowichan animal sanctuary gets international accreditation

A Home for Hooves farm sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries

Most Read