Want to know what Bonnie Henry, our Provincial Health Officer, suggests be done about BC’s opioid crisis? Want to know what Horgan and the NDP have done to follow her advice? Read on …
by Pat Carl
On July 21, 2020, John Horgan sent a letter to Justin Trudeau requesting that the federal government decriminalize illicit drug possession.
Horgan crafted his letter more than a year after Bonnie Henry’s Special Report – Stopping the Harm – dated April 24, 2019.
In fact, despite an NDP member driven resolution at their annual convention on November 24, 2019, BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth, stated that the Horgan government would neither decriminalize drug possession in BC nor send a letter to Premier Trudeau because changing drug laws is “not our responsibility … it’s up to the federal government.”
In contradicting Farnworth, Bonnie Henry said, “In the context of the continuing overdose crisis that is affecting families and communities across B.C., the province cannot wait for action at the federal level … immediate provincial action is warranted.”
Since the 2017 provincial election, critics of the NDP’s response to B.C.’s overdose crisis have argued the province could be doing much more to help people addicted to street opioids (synthetic opioids) [by providing them with access to a regulated (and safe) supply of opioids].
While the Horgan NDP Party has received kudos for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic (based on Bonnie Henry’s data-driven advice), they have been slow on the up-take regarding the opioid crisis.
According to Guy Felicella, a peer clinical advisor at the BC Centre on Substance Use, the difference in the NDP’s responses to the two crises indicates that “…some lives just mean more than others.”
Pre-dating even Bonnie Henry’s report, the BC Green 2017 election platform called for “… an immediate response to the fentanyl crisis based on successful programs in Europe that invest in treatment….” Further, the Party noted that “the fentanyl crisis has highlighted the inadequacy of our [BC’s] addiction services … [and] our lack of safe injection sites.”
Much of Bonnie Henry’s suggestions in her report are based on an examination of European programs, specifically ones out of Portugal.
In contrast to Premier Horgan’s inaction, take a look at the BC Green Party’s platform relating to opioids.