VANCOUVER (November 15, 2018) – BC Liberal MLAs are expressing cautious optimism about the Representative for Children and Youth’s latest report entitled Safety First.
The report calls for a full suite of harm reduction measures for youth, after 24 youth died last year from overdoses. This includes supervised injection sites but falls short of recommending youth-specific treatment, prevention and recovery options.
“The opioid crisis is not slowing down,” said BC Liberal Critic for Mental Health and Addictions Jane Thornthwaite. “The crisis has become so bad that it is actually causing life expectancy in our province to drop. The government’s strategy needs to expand from a sole focus on harm reduction to a full continuum of care that includes prevention and recovery in addition to harm reduction.”
That includes long-term recovery options that help people get well and supports them if they relapse. It should also include an offer of abstinence-based treatment options when they are ready. Continuing to ignore these options will not curb overdoses.
“Parents, foster parents and professionals also need to be trained in youth mental health and addictions issues, so they can recognize the warning signs early and seek help,” said Laurie Throness, BC Liberal Critic for Children and Family Development.
The root causes of addiction need to be identified and treated so that youth can move on a pathway to get well. Educational, preventative and intervention initiatives integrated into the school system would also help.
“I introduced the Safe Care Act earlier this year, which would address many of the gaps in the government’s strategy,” said Thornthwaite. “It’s time for the government to pass the Safe Care Act so that youth get the care they need.”