Supplies like clean needles are available at the Overdose Prevention Society’s safe-injection site. (John Lehmann/Photo for The Washington Post)

First Nation chiefs call for B.C. to declare state of emergency over opioid crisis

Union of BC Indian Chiefs says the overdose epidemic hits Indigenous people especially hard

Indigenous leaders in B.C. are calling for the province to escalate its response to the opioid crisis in First Nations communities and recognize it as a state of emergency similar to during floods and wildfires.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs this week said overdose deaths are devastating its people. The most recent data, released more than a year ago by the BC Coroners Service, found that Indigenous people are three times more likely to die from an overdose than the rest of British Columbians.

“While the opioid crisis has affected every region of Canada, British Columbia tops the four regions hardest hit, with First Nations people facing the brunt of the impacts,” said Judy Wilson, the union’s secretary-treasurer.

The B.C. government, under the BC Liberal Party in 2016, declared the sudden increase in overdoses the province’s first-ever public health emergency, allowing more immediate data collection of fatal overdoses and quicker responses on the frontlines.

READ MORE: First Nations people in B.C. three times more likely to die of overdose

Wilson said First Nations people are twice as likely to be dispensed an opioid than non-First Nations, and overdoses are reported every two hours on some reserves.

“These statistics are completely unacceptable, and B.C. must immediately act or be held accountable and liable for their inaction.”

The council is also urging the province to launch a public inquiry into influences of international organized crime, including money laundering, on the crisis.

The Ministry of Health has not yet returned a request for comment.

READ MORE: B.C. moves closer to money laundering public inquiry; feds vow ‘crack down’


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rossland’s farmer’s market is wilting, but organizers hope to spur new growth

12-year-old market considered taking a year off, says manager

Police investigating man’s death in Winlaw

Foul play not established, but major crimes unit is investigating

Rossland Legion supports Skool Aid

Skool Aid assists low-income families in the Lower Columbia

Bilingual child care spaces coming to Castlegar

New daycare opening this summer will teach kids French and English

Motion calls on Rossland city council to recognize ‘climate crisis’

Andy Morel wants to raise awareness of urgent need for action by higher levels of government

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

Toronto will play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Most Read