Last year 914 people in BC died of drug overdose. These people were mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, partners and friends. They were members of our communities. They will be missed.
My heart goes out to those who have lost someone dear and close to them.
We need to work together to prevent further deaths. We need to treat this like the crisis it is.
When we have wildfires in BC we don't stop to check the budget before putting the fires out. We do what needs to be done to protect communities and protect lives.
When we're in crisis, we need to come together and we need to address that crisis as a community. I know all British Columbians share my disappointment that the government has been slow to get this issue under control.
If the BC Liberals had simply kept their 2013 promise to open 500 new addictions beds by 2017, we'd be in a much better position to respond to this crisis and protect lives.
Community members and first responders have engaged in heroic efforts to save lives. But they are stretched to the breaking point.
We simply aren't doing enough to stop overdoses before they happen.
We need trauma-informed and evidence-based treatment, including maintenance, to be available when people are ready to pursue it. We also need improved mental health resources to help people before they turn to drugs.
And more than that we need to show compassion, empathy and understanding towards people experiencing addiction. That means ending stigma that isolates people and keeps them from seeking help.
I've made it clear, as Leader of the Official Opposition caucus, that anything that we can do to help in this crisis, we're prepared to do. Anything that we can do to accelerate action, we want to do.
I hope you'll join me in working towards a better BC - one where no one is left behind, and no one is left to die on our streets.