Dan Jack photo First responders prepare to transport an apparent overdose victim in downtown Parksville Saturday morning, April 22, 2017.

Advocates urge B.C. to withdraw proposed bill allowing youth to be held after overdoses

Bill 22 would create more harm than good argues the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and others

Proposed changes to B.C.’s Mental Health Act that would create a new form of detention and involuntary health care for youth who have experienced an overdose must be scrapped, according to advocates.

In an online press conference Monday morning (July 27) the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Health Justice and BC Civil Liberties Association condemned Bill 22 and warned if pushed through, it would create more harm than good for youth amid the ongoing opioid crisis that has claimed thousands of lives.

President of BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors, Hawkfeather Peterson said pervasive stigma remains common for substance users.

Read More: Overdoses ‘sadly normalized’ in British Columbia: addictions minister

“When I see the government backsliding into discriminatory policy such as this it really just feels like all the hard work we’ve done to affirm ourselves has been completely negated,” Peterson said.

Based on a successful pilot program at BC Children’s Hospital, Bill 22 is currently on pause noted B.C. Minister of Addictions Judy Darcy who said government will “take this time to talk to more people about the work that we were already thinking about doing with our partners on safeguards in regulation to protect young people’s rights.”

Whether it be trauma associated with family violence or being in care, instability within their life or dislocation from family, community and culture, youth have stated their main reason for using substances is to numb their emotional pain, said BC Representative for Children and Youth, Dr. Jennifer Charlesworth, who acknowledged the increasing toxicity of the province’s illicit drug supply.

Read More: Parallel crises: How COVID-19 exacerbated B.C.’s drug overdose emergency

A report in March by the Representative for Children and Youth found there were no intensive community day treatment programs in the province and just six youth specific intensive care management programs in B.C. which did not apply to the Fraser or Northern region. Charlesworth added there were seven residential detox programs in the province offering a total of 27 youth specific beds, six of which had wait lists. There are also wait lists as long as three months for five of the six publicly funded community residential treatment programs.

Laura Johnson with Health Justice said a fundamental defect of B.C’s Mental Health Act is there no protections against restraints and being isolated, and that Bill 22 extends this “horrific regime” and does not protect youth from the prospect of being restrained while undergoing involuntary treatment.

Read More: Isolation, drug toxicity lead to spike in First Nations overdose deaths amid pandemic: FNHA

Speaking on behalf of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Kukpi (chief) Judy Wilson of Neskonlith Indian Band said Bill 22 puts First Nations who have been working with the First Nations Health Authority to reform the health care for their people back many steps.

“We need to put those wraparound supports and services and not cut them off from their family and community, not detain them and punish them. It’s a health need. It’s not a criminalization where because they’re on substances or they have a family breakdown or crisis or mental health that they’re incarcerated or put into a system that’s foreign to us,” Wilson said, noting resulting high incarceration, suicide and mortality rates.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC governmentFirst Nationsmental healthoverdose

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Green Party announces candidate for Abbotsford South

Former provincial and municipal candidate Aird Flavelle seeks election

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Sept. 27

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

ELECTION: Libertarian Alex Joehl to run in Langley East

Second provincial run by Murrayville resident

Aldergrove farm invites artists for life drawing sessions

Art in the Country happens this Saturday, Oct. 3, at 26864 16th Ave

Langley Township’s Adastra Lab breaks local cannabis mold with extraction development

CEO Andrew Hale said changing market is leading to larger demand for distillate products

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

Another death as COVID-19 outbreak at Delta Hospital climbs to 18 cases

Total of 12 patients and six staff in one unit have tested positive for COVID-19: Fraser Health

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Most Read