Eight years since British Columbia declared a public health emergency, the drug crisis continues to rage


VANCOUVER – Eight years to the day after British Columbia declared a public health emergency, Prime Minister David Eby says the toxic drug crisis has had a “catastrophic impact” on families and communities.

Eby says in a statement that toxic drug deaths have taken a toll on friends and family of those who died, but also on frontline workers who are struggling with the ongoing harm caused by addiction and drug deaths.

He says the situation needs to be recognized as a “health crisis” as his government seeks to build and improve the mental health and addiction care system in the province.

The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, in the statement released Sunday, says the health emergency has placed an “unprecedented burden” on the province.

Henry says drug users come from “all walks of life” and often struggle with trauma, and those trying to break free from addiction must go through a recovery process that is not “linear” or dependent on total abstinence.

The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users says in a statement that the anniversary falls at a time when the crisis “has become a toxic political issue” and that it, along with other drug users' associations, will hold a town hall meeting on Sunday to to address the public. Health emergency.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2024.

The Canadian Press

BC Premier David Eby speaks during an announcement in Delta, B.C., on Monday, March 18, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck