By The Georgia Straight
The drug-overdose crisis is the most acute health emergency that Canada has faced in a generation. More than 12,800 people have died of an opioid overdose since Health Canada began counting in January 2016.
There are now so many fatal overdoses that this single cause of death has stalled the average life expectancy for the entire population. “Life expectancy at birth did not increase from 2016 to 2017 for either males or females, a first in over four decades,” Statistics Canada warned last May.
There’s a federal election less than one week away, on October 21. And yet more than 4,000 fatal overdoses each year is something that no one is talking about.
The word “overdose” appears in the incumbent Liberal party’s 85-page election platform exactly once.
“The opioid crisis is the greatest public health emergency since the AIDS epidemic,” it reads. Then there are only another two paragraphs.
The Liberals promise “new investments” in treatment services and briefly outline a plan to divert people charged with possession away from the criminal system and into “drug treatment court”. In addition, injection sites will hopefully operate with longer hours. That’s it.
The Conservative party’s 2019 platform gives the opioid epidemic a little more space, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Andrew Scheer’s plan to reduce overdose deaths appears to be nothing more than the same tough-on-crime, abstinence-only approach to addiction that’s failed in every jurisdiction across North America for more than half a century now.