BY BOB ZIMMER
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP
British Columbia as a province has lost over 900 lives to illicit drug overdoses in just the first seven months of 2020. This number is shocking; especially considering that we are already close to surpassing the total number of overdose deaths for all of 2019. Locally, illicit drug overdoses have claimed the lives of 22 in Prince George and 12 in Fort St. John already this year.
While I know many of us have been focused on COVID-19, it is important that we recognize that we are facing an addictions crisis not only within the province but also across the country. That is why I am proud to support communities like Fort St. John and Prince George who have recently declared Overdose Awareness Weeks to help raise this issue locally.
There is no doubt that the addictions crisis in Canada is a dynamic and complicated issue.
While we must look for ways to get these dangerous substances off of our streets including finding ways to prevent the importation of fentanyl from China, we must also work toward building a system of care where everyone who struggles with addiction is offered treatment and a pathway to recovery.
It is why I supported former Fort St. John mayor Bruce Lantz and the Northern Lights Recovery Centre Society in their efforts to try to build a rehabilitation centre in Fort St. John, as well as the Salvation Army’s Northern Centre of Hope. I am also pleased to see that the North Wind Wellness Centre is looking to build a new 40-unit addictions and recovery centre in Farmington.
It is these types of projects that we should be focusing on in our efforts to support those who suffer from addictions.
Illicit drugs are extremely dangerous substances that tear families apart, negatively impact communities and have lasting effects on individuals who become addicted. It is why I firmly believe that they should remain illegal. Taking steps like decriminalizing drugs will not help Canadians struggling with addiction on their path to recovery.
As Marshall Smith, co-author of the report Strategies to Strengthen Recovery in British Columbia: The Path Forward said following its release in 2018: “The message to British Columbians must be: recovery is possible”.
That is why I will continue to call on Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government to deliver a comprehensive, recovery-oriented plan to tackle Canada’s addictions crisis.