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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Meet the new director at Revelstoke Railway Museum

Jim Cullen has worked in museums for over two decades

Curbside reads available as Okanagan libraries reopen

Okanagan Regional Library reopened June 2 in phased approach

Highway 23 North to see construction delays starting this week

BC Hydro is working on a slope stabilization project near Revelstoke Dam

Tim Hortons serves up a thank you to front-line workers

On May 21 the Tim Hortons coffee truck came through Revelstoke

City of Revelstoke expects to stay on budget with $1.5 million roadworks project

Pavement, deep utility maintenance and sidewalks are in the plan for the Lowertown area

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

How to safely drink water in areas impacted by flooding

Quality and safety of drinking water can be affected during and after floods

Three Calgary men make smart decision while lost in Shuswap

Adventurers’ vehicle breaks down at night in Seymour Arm area

Motorcycle driver disappears after crash along Highway 1 in South Shuswap

Chase RCMP respond to two single-vehicle crashes over the weekend

RCMP report Shuswap suspect threatened to kill neighbours

Police say man was arrested with loaded weapons inside vehicle and residence

Kelowna Mountie faces internal review after ‘uncooperative’ arrest

“A thorough internal review of this officer’s actions is currently underway,” said Kelowna RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle.

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

High water levels on Shuswap Lake may close popular Canoe Beach

Rain forecast could flood entrance tunnel, city staff to evaluate

Most Read