On the coldest night of 2016, thirteen people die by overdose in B.C. And November’s overall figures were the highest since last January (December’s totals yet to be finalized).
Is this just a coincidence, or could it be that existing without a home during extreme weather motivates one to crave an altered state?
We know that homeless folk in Chilliwack lost tents and possessions to fire while trying to keep warm. Also in the Fraser Valley, a woman sleeping in a tent was smothered when the tent collapsed under the weight of the snow. And another homeless individual in Cloverdale suffered second and third-degree burns while using a propane burner. We’ve also heard a resident of Surrey’s notorious stretch of tents say on radio: “I don’t know what to do; I don’t know where to go”. And a resident of Vancouver’s DTES said: “there’s no housing, there’s no detox”.
We know that Lower Mainland police chiefs and mayors — as well as Fraser Health’s CEO — have asked the province for increased supportive housing and mental health services. We also know that a Vancouver health-care professional (included on a Global TV report, Dec.19) said that addiction services are “the biggest missing link”. And those who desperately want detox options have to wait up to three months for a bed.
Yet our provincial government drowns out the cries with the mantra of “low taxes”, and holds on tightly to a (supposed) surplus of $2.24 billion, all the while waiting for the next figures on death by overdose.
And so that was Christmas.
– Regina Dalton, Abbotsford