In light of a record-breaking number of overdose deaths so far in 2021, a Surrey-area Liberal MLA is calling on the NDP government to do more to support British Columbians who are struggling with addiction.
In a news release issued Thursday morning – shortly after the BC Coroner’s Service announced that 498 B.C. residents died of overdoses in the first three months of the year – Trevor Halford (Surrey-White Rock) noted that, though the overdose crisis was declared a public emergency five years ago, the current numbers show “just how much work there needs to be done… as overdose deaths continue to rise.”
“More than just supplementing programs to keep people alive, this NDP government needs to take action to help people right now,” said Halford, who is the BC Liberal critic for mental health and addictions.
“Instead, the NDP is inexplicably spending less on support this year compared to the next three fiscal years.
“Sons, brothers, aunts and so many others across B.C. can’t afford for John Horgan and the NDP to wait any longer. It’s time for this government to ensure they have access to the appropriate care and supports needed today.”
Of the nearly 500 deaths through the first three months of the year – 158 came in March, the coroner’s service reported. That number ties the all-time record for that month, originally set in March 2018. It’s also a 41 per cent jump from the March 2020 numbers.
An increase in opioid overdoses during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been a concern of many since last spring. Last June, Sources Community Resource Centre substance use services manager George Passmore told Peace Arch News the increased isolation that’s come as result of the pandemic has no doubt played a role.
“As COVID-19 hit, certainly people accessing their normal services was reduced. And people were experiencing greater isolation in their lives and losing the structure of their jobs,” he said.