(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

Local poet and VIU professor Sonnet L’Abbé wrote and performed a song as part of the city’s Reimagine Nanaimo campaign. (Photo courtesy City of Nanaimo/Port Theatre)
Poet pens song as part of city’s Reimagine Nanaimo campaign

Sonnet L’Abbé encourages a friend to move to the city in ‘Nazaneen: A Song for Nanaimo’

Const. Joshua Waltman brings knowledge gained from working with people experiencing homelessness in Surrey to his new role as the RCMP’s mental health liaison officer in Nanaimo where he will work with people from across society who find themselves struggling with mental health crisis. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo RCMP’s mental health liaison says his role will take persistence and resilience

Const. Joshua Waltman talks about limiting anxiety and gaining trust of people in mental crises

Janice Perrino, Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation CEO, holds information brochures for the Light the Trees campaign, part of an effort to raise $5 million for the new intensive care unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Million-dollar donation has Light the Trees campaign off to a bright start in Nanaimo

Windsor Plywood Foundation supports Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation

Regional District of Nanaimo will be receiving $1.17 million from the B.C. government in COVID-19 safe restart grant money. (News Bulletin file)
Regional District of Nanaimo directors getting started on budgeting decisions

Proposed tax requisitions for 2021 range from 7.3-per cent increase to 2.2-per cent decrease

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson takes her oaths of office virtually on Thursday. (B.C. Government YouTube screen shot)
Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson named B.C.’s mental health and addictions minister

Malcolmson succeeds Judy Darcy, who did not seek re-election

Police in Nanaimo never know what they’ll encounter when called upon to check on the well-being of people. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo RCMP find ‘heart-breaking’ circumstances during wellness checks

Police offer sampling of outcomes from well-being checks over recent weeks

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read