Pubdate: Fri, 09 Jun 2017
Source: Metro (Vancouver, CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: David P. Ball
Page: 8


Advocate fears lack of action due to power vacuum

A British Columbian mother whose son died from a fentanyl overdose is
watching the province's political uncertainty with some unease since
the May 9 razor-thin election.

With neither party commanding a majority of seats, government
ministries have been treading water - maintaining existing programs
but prevented from taking new policy directions.

Leslie McBain's 25-year-old son Jordan died of an opioid overdose in
February 2014. She wants whoever takes power to listen to those most
directly impacted.

"We're going to be holding their feet to the fire," she told Metro in
a phone interview this week. "Families who have a loved one in active
addiction, and drug dependent people, need to be supported by the
government in a real way.

"We need low-barrier, wide ranging recovery options, medically
assisted treatment, and rapid-access clinics where a person can get
help today - not in two weeks when you're clean, because those haven't

Last week, McBain joined St. Paul's Hospital's B.C. Centre on
Substance Use as its families engagement lead and continues to sit on
B.C.'s Joint Task Force on Overdose Prevention and Response.

The public health emergency killed 488 people between January and
April this year, according to the B.C. Coroner's Service. More than
930 people died in B.C. last year; at this pace, there could be more
than 1,450 in 2017.

The NDP, in their four-year co-operation pact with Greens, agreed to
task a "dedicated minister responsible" for a mental health and
addiction strategy, vowing the ministry would have "sufficient funding
to provide frontline services, including … supervised injection
sites." They also promised an "immediate response" to the overdose
crisis based on "successful programs" for on-demand addictions
treatment, drug substitution therapy and more "early-warning"
monitoring systems in health care.

But McBain's not entirely sold yet on the proposal to create a
separate mental health and addictions ministry. "As a volunteer, I've
been working with joint task force for a year under the Ministry of
Health," she said. "I don't see what's to be gained by adding a new

"It would depend on how they structure it.… If they had a person, a
minister of mental health and addictions, who could be like the Drug
Czar in the U.S. whose whole portfolio was to make nimble moves, that
would be amazing."
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