In light of December's staggering death toll, how many beds are currently available for those actively seeking recovery services?
"Being completely aware of last month’s staggering death toll, it should be a priority for Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson to come clean about exactly how many beds are currently available for those actively seeking recovery services.”
PLEASE NOTE ... a condensed version of this News release was sent to media across the province
Last week the federal government announced a $15 million dollar investment, towards a number of pilot projects in Vancouver and Victoria, to provide safer drugs for people at risk of dying from overdoses.
“While it is commendable for the federal government to allocate these funds, in an attempt to stem the rise of illegal drugs and overdoses in B.C., a key component in solving this problem remains missing. Those who are seeking help have nowhere to turn – a fact confirmed by information released this morning by the B.C. Coroners Service,” stated Conservative BC leader Trevor Bolin from his home in Fort St. John.
“One hundred and fifty-two additional lives were lost this past December, bringing the total to 1,742 during 2020. But they weren’t just statistics. They were sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters.
I have witnessed firsthand what it’s like for an addict who wants to get better, and yet cannot get the help they require when they need it. The fact of the matter is that too often those who have made the decision to seek treatment are finding that nothing is available to them, and they end up back on the street in a frantic search to feed the addictive craving they are suffering from,” Bolin continued.
If the human cost was not enough, a 2014 report entitled “Canadian Substance Use Costs” showed substance abuse was costing the province $4.9 billion annually. Five years later, the provincial government released the ‘Pathway to Hope’, detailing its roadmap for making mental health and addiction care better. It showed that the previous $4.9 billion dollar cost had increased to a staggering $6.6 billion.
“What’s worse is that since 2014, deaths from illicit drugs have steadily climbed from an average of one per day, to five.
The provincial government knows what needs to be done, as they clearly outlined in the Pathway to Hope, and yet they continue to drag their feet.
Of the approximately $2.6 billion spent annually on mental health and substance use services, only a small percentage is being spent on early intervention, prevention, and long-term recovery initiatives.
How many more reports does the government need to waste money on? The Pathway to Hope clearly states that rapid access to the right treatment is critical.”
In 2013, then B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark announced there would be 500 new publicly funded beds made available for those looking seeking help with addictions.
Following their election in 2017 Premier Horgan’s NDP government announced they would be creating 60 additional beds, which was followed last fall with the announcement of a further 50 to 70 beds.
Remarked Bolin, “Now, in a misleading statement released Tuesday’s by Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, she claimed ‘more than 100 new publicly funded beds in 14 organizations will soon become available around the province.’
It’s simply not the case, as it seems that figure already included the 50 to 70 beds announced last fall. In fact, by the government’s own admission, only 46 will be ‘new spaces’ in existing treatment and recovery organizations.
Being completely aware of last month’s staggering death toll, it should be a priority for Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson to come clean about exactly how many beds are currently available for those actively seeking recovery services.”
While previous and current governments have consistently failed in providing the necessary services for those suffering from addictions, deaths because of it have risen from 295 a decade ago, to over 1,700 in 2020.
When will adequate funding and services be available for this issue which has claimed so many lives?” B.C.’s Conservative leader concluded.