Viewpoint: Fentanyl crisis affects everyone

Our family lost a loved son and brother at the age of 26 to a fentanyl poisoning on April 24, 2017. Ryan was one of 124 people last April in BC to lose their life and one of 1,400 British Columbians in 2017 due to drug overdose.

Ryan was not sick; he was a healthy young man who was working as an electrician and had finished eight months of recovery. It is now 17 months later, and we are on pace for another 1,400 British Colombians to lose their lives to the same preventable cause in 2018.

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More than four people every day in BC are continuing to die from a fentanyl poisoning. This crisis is affecting everyone, as it’s non-discriminatory in who is dying, affecting everyone from business people, health-care providers, construction workers, teenagers to seniors.

Premier John Horgan needs to declare this fentanyl crisis a provincial state of emergency and then call on the other provincial premiers to do the same. In July 2017, our Liberal Government declared a provincial state of emergency to combat wildfires, which was extended by our new NDP government in August 2017. This provincial emergency act was declared again in 2018 due to wildfires.

Not a single life was lost to wildfires in either year, yet a contaminated source will kill 3,000 British Colombians and over 8,000 Canadians across Canada in 2017 and 2018. We understand because of the size and amount of fires that it was necessary to declare the provincial emergency. We don’t understand how so many healthy people across our province have died and continue to die every day and it is not a provincial state of emergency.

Our premiers need to call upon our prime minister and his Liberal government to declare this crisis a national public health emergency now, so real changes can occur to save lives now. Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Tam, stated that “Tragically in 2016, there were more deaths from opioid-related deaths than from the HIV epidemic in 1995. This is a major public health crisis in Canada.”

Our governments are responsible for the safety of its citizens and have the responsibility to do all they can to stop preventable deaths. Tragically the fear of losing votes and optics are preventing this.

John and Jennifer, Megan and Kyle Hedican are residents of Courtenay, BC.

 
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