Federal government to make ‘important announcement’ on overdose crisis with B.C. today

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett is set to make an announcement today with her B.C. counterpart, Sheila Malcolmson, concerning the opioid overdose crisis.

The province has applied to decriminalize small amounts of illicit drugs

The federal government is set to make today what it's calling an "important announcement" with the British Columbia government on the overdose crisis.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett is scheduled to join her provincial counterpart, Sheila Malcolmson, in Vancouver to provide details on what an advisory says is a public health approach focused on reducing harms and saving lives.

The announcement is expected to be related to B.C.'s application for an exemption from Canada's drug laws to decriminalize possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use by those aged 19 and up.

The province became the first in the country last November to apply for an exemption that was aimed at eliminating criminal penalties and reducing the stigma associated with substance use.

WATCH | After record overdose deaths, B.C. determined to battle opioid crisis:

B.C. determined to battle opioid crisis after record overdose deaths in 2021

4 months ago

Duration 2:01

After more than 2,200 died of illicit-drug overdoses in 2021, British Columbia remains determined to fight back against the opioid crisis even in the face of stronger street drugs and long waits for treatment.

At the time, Malcolmson said fear and shame prevent people from seeking potentially life-saving care in a province that declared a public health emergency in 2016 over a record number of opioid-related deaths.

In April, she said Health Canada's update on the province's request suggested it would consider a lower threshold than that requested by the province, which wanted a cumulative 4.5 grams for opioids, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Deaths from opioid overdoses reached record levels in British Columbia last year, surging during the pandemic. B.C. reported 2,224 suspected overdose deaths in 2021.

Between January and September last year, at least 5,368 Canadians died from "apparent opioid toxicity," the classification used by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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