Skip to main content

B.C Premier Christy Clark has announced $10-million in funding in the continued response to an overdose crisis

Ben Nelms/The Globe and Mail

British Columbia will create a centre to research drug addiction and provide education and guidance to health-care providers but more must be done to battle an illicit-drug overdose crisis, the premier says.

"We must stem this epidemic on our streets," Christy Clark said Wednesday. "We must protect our children."

She told an annual meeting of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities that B.C. will spend $10 million to deal with the issue, with half the funding going towards the B.C. Centre on Substance Use.

Story continues below advertisement

The Globe is hosting a Facebook Live chat with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson at 12:35 p.m. PT on Thursday. Find out more here

Read more: A Killer High: How Canada got addicted to fentanyl

Read more: How opioid abuse takes a rising financial toll on Canada's health-care system

The province is home to some of Canada's leading addiction and recovery experts, and the centre will help them continue important work aimed at preventing more tragedies, Clark said.

Addiction specialist Dr. Evan Wood, who will be the interim director of the centre, said the funding will save lives and improve care.

"By describing best practices and building linkages between treatment and recovery systems, it will help to address many of the health and social challenges associated with untreated addiction facing the health-care system in B.C.," he said in a release.

The province will spend the remaining $5 million on initiatives such as handing out the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and teaching police how to use it to treat overdoses.

Story continues below advertisement

Expanding the use of naloxone is one priority identified by a provincial task force organized in July to address a high number of overdoses.

British Columbia has been the epicentre of opioid deaths in Canada, and the province declared a public health emergency in April.

Statistics from the BC Coroners Service show there were 488 deaths involving illicit opioids between January and the end of August, compared to 505 fatal overdoses in all of 2015.

The opioid fentanyl was detected in 264 of the deaths, up dramatically from 82 deaths a year ago.

Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe has said most of the fatal overdoses are the result of people taking fentanyl with another drug, mostly cocaine, and many don't know that they're ingesting the deadly opioid.

The drug is having a tragic impact, Clark said Wednesday.

Story continues below advertisement

"Fentanyl has become a real plague. And I think all of us have seen people and know people for whom it has had devastating consequences," she said.

"It is absolutely urgent that we get more done. These epidemics, every one of those deaths, is preventable."

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies