The Union of BC Indian Chiefs has called for the provincial government to “act immediately” to solve the opioid crisis.
The group demanded that several ministers, alongside Premier John Horgan, do more about the situation that is “devastating First Nation communities” in B.C.
“While the opioid crisis has affected every region of Canada, British Columbia tops the four regions hardest hit, with First Nations people facing the brunt of the impacts,” Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, secretary-treasurer of the UBCIC, said.
“First Nations people are five times more likely than non–First Nations citizens to experience an opioid-related overdose event, and three times more likely to die from an opioid-related overdose,” she explained.
She went on: “First Nations people are twice as likely to be dispensed an opioid than non–First Nations citizens; and on some reserves, an opioid overdose is reported every two hours.
“These statistics are completely unacceptable, and BC must immediately act or be held accountable and liable for their inaction.”
UBCIC President Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, meanwhile, said his own son had died because of an overdose last year.
“The UBCIC is fully committed to exhausting all appropriate avenues to find an immediate solution to this crisis,” heh said.
“It is imperative for the government of B.C. to commit to the same. Collectively First Nations and the B.C. government can heal these wounds and protect our communities.”
Tom Rodgers, the director of the Opioid Conference, added that there have been many times more Canadian deaths from opioid overdoses than during the Afghanistan War.
He added: “But we were not at war. Now we are at war with Big Pharma, and we intend to hold it accountable for the opioid crisis and secure reparations for First Nations to invest in the healing and recovery of our communities."