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The Toxic Drug Supply Crisis: A Catastrophic Disaster

The toxic drug supply crisis has ravaged communities across the entirety of British Columbia over the course of the last eight years since British Columbia declared a public health emergency on April 14, 2016.

In that same year, just shy of 1000 people lost their lives to toxic drug poisonings. And since British Columbia’s declaration, there has been an increase in the number of deaths each year, apart from 2019.  Over 14,000 losses in eight years.

This is nothing short of a catastrophic disaster which has disproportionately affected the lives of Indigenous people. The loss within Indigenous communities has been staggering. Loss at a rate almost six times higher than any other population of human beings.

This crisis, and the resultant exponential loss, is also adding pressure to an already overwhelmed child welfare system and the pressures facing frontline practitioners. Indigenous Child & Family Service Agencies are supporting children who have lost their parents, and parents who have lost their children. No one is walking away from this disaster unscathed.

This catastrophic disaster requires an immediate, meaningful and stigma free response across all levels of government and alongside grassroots organizations who are actively supporting people using substances on the ground.

Treatment services rooted in Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing are critical, alongside harm reduction and mental health services that support individuals where they are at.

True partnership is necessary to flip this crisis on its head. We cannot continue to lose our loved ones at the record pace set throughout this public health emergency.