Recommendations to combat the drug toxicity and overdose crisis have been released, with the goal of seeing investments in all sectors of care.
A total of 37 recommendations have been made by the select standing committee on health under the following nine categories:
- Overarching government response
- Prevention and education
- Harm reduction
- Safer supply
- Treatment and recovery
- Enforcement and decriminalization
- Indigenous People
- Additional measures
Deputy chair Shirley Bond says it will take multiple investments to take on the crisis.
“There is no one-size-fits-all response to this crisis,” said Bond. “The committee wants to see significant investments across the entire continuum of care – from prevention and education to treatment and recovery – as well as ongoing evaluation and monitoring to ensure results are achieved.”
Recommendations include lowering barriers to care – like housing and employment – to increasing public awareness and increasing harm reduction services.
The committee adds safe supplies and decriminalization need to be done, with funding for police to refer individuals who are not charged to substance use supports and services.
The report states that in the six years since 2016 when drug-related deaths were declared a public health emergency, 10,000 people across the province have died from toxic drugs.
The committee asked the public for its input on the crisis through public hearings and letters.
They received 881 written submissions from across the province and had 118 presenters speak to them, ranging from support groups to federal and provincial briefings.
The Crisis Centre of BC says the report has marked a decisive step taken by the provincial government.
They add they are “heartened” by the recommendations to engage crisis lines and crisis support services to provide wraparound support like follow-up calls.
The centre says the committee also supports the recommendation of the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act to integrate mental health within 911 call options.
“Crisis lines across BC are thrilled to see recommendations that integrate our province-wide, 24 hours a day services into the continuum of care for folks suffering from the opioid crisis and addictions,” said BC Crisis Line Network chairperson Stacy Ashton.
“Crisis is layered and needs the individualized, collaborative, trauma-informed approach we use to help people find their own way through.”
Minister of mental health and addictions Sheila Malcomson says she is grateful “to the committee for their hard work on this complex and evolving public-health emergency.”
For the full report, click here.
With files from Will Peters, MyPGNow.