I’m alarmed at recent reports that overdose death rates in the Northern Health area are up to 29 per 100,000 people and the lack of urgency demonstrated both by Dr. Kling, our medical health officer, and the community in general.
If the north has the highest rate in the province and B.C. has the highest rates in the country, can we conclude that we are living in the region with the highest drug death rates in Canada? Is this the legacy we want, to be number one in a particular type of very preventable death?
Dr. Kling talks about overdose death prevention services. Sorry, what are they exactly - one supervised consumption site in one city open from 1 to 6 p.m.? Is that all we’re doing when nationally we have the most deaths per capita from drugs?
I’m thoroughly confused by the statement that the coroner's reports are indicating that fentanyl presence in fatalities is down to 70 per cent from 86 per cent looks “good on paper.” How exactly does that look good to anyone? That means that now 30 per cent of drug-related deaths involve toxic substances that cannot be identified through the only drug checking service offered in the Northern Health Region: fentanyl strip testing.
All other health regions in the province offer a drug checking service that provides a thorough profile of all substances in a drug sample by using the FTIR spectrometer. It’s a portable machine and can be set up at various public health offices, community centres and overdose prevention sites.
Furthermore, if we are seeing that 30 per cent of drug deaths are not from fentanyl, are they from opioids at all? If not, that means the widespread expansion of naloxone, which only reverses opioid-cased overdoses, is not an effective intervention for these deaths.
I am not criticizing the overdose prevention services offered by Northern Health but arguing that they are not enough considering the crisis we are in.
We need drug checking, we need access to safe supply and we need supervised consumption to be integrated into housing and shelter programs. We need rapid access to funded treatment.
When faced with the coronavirus pandemic, we all worked together to fundamentally change how our communities functioned for the sake of saving lives. So why are we so complacent about these ones?