Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy issued the following statement to mark International Overdose Awareness Day:
“Today, people are coming together in communities throughout British Columbia and around the world to mourn people we have lost to overdose. We pause to honour the loved ones who have died in this unrelenting crisis fuelled by a toxic, unpredictable illicit drug supply. They are our parents, children, co-workers, neighbours, partners, friends and loved ones—people gone too soon, but never forgotten.
“It’s in their memory that we remain steadfast in our approach to addressing this crisis on all fronts and in every corner of this province.
“In Vancouver, B.C. Place and the Vancouver Convention Centre will be cast in purple light this weekend in memory of those we have lost to overdose. In the Interior, the Okanagan Nation Alliance will host an awareness walk and purple ribbon campaign to raise awareness of the overdose crisis and its impact on First Nations peoples. In my community of New Westminster, people are sharing messages of hope and remembrance on a community mural at the Russell Housing Centre.
“These and many more community actions happening here in B.C. and around the world show us how the overdose crisis touches every single one of us. They remind us that addiction is not a moral failing, it is a health condition. People struggling with addiction deserve to be treated with the same dignity, respect and quality of care as people living with any other health condition.
“I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of the first responders, outreach workers, peers, emergency department staff and frontline workers who work tirelessly under heart-wrenching conditions. Your work inspires and deepens the resolve of our government to do everything we can to turn the tide on this terrible crisis.
“That’s why we’re continuing to support community-led actions to save lives, help people stabilize and connect them to treatment and recovery. At the same time, we’re improving care at supportive recovery homes, investing in First Nations-run treatment centres and expanding access to mental health and addiction services.
“The greatest inroads we are making are a result of working together with all partners to increase life-saving supports throughout the province. The BC Centre for Disease Control estimates that 4,700 deaths have been averted by actions, including scaled-up distribution of naloxone, more overdose prevention sites and better access to medication-assisted treatment, known as opioid agonist treatment.
“On International Overdose Awareness Day, I encourage you to join me in recommitting to bring everything we can to bear on this crisis. We have a responsibility to each other, our communities and the loved ones we have lost to keep compassion, respect and understanding at the forefront of our minds—and to continue to escalate our response.”