Opioid crisis draws election debate after 15 people die in Vancouver in one week

published on May 4, 2017 by Laura Kane and Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press in Winnipeg Free Press

VANCOUVER – British Columbia’s opioid crisis became a focal point of the province’s election campaign on Thursday after receiving less attention than other issues, despite the ongoing death toll.

The NDP has promised to create a standalone Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction, among other measures, while Liberal promises include $12 million for up to 28 youth addiction treatment beds and $2 million for the new B.C. Centre on Substance Use.

New Democrat Leader John Horgan said Christy Clark’s Liberal government declared a public health crisis a year ago and yet the problem has gotten worse.

“It strikes me we’re not doing enough to address this,” he said at a campaign stop in Richmond. “I want to make sure there’s a minister responsible for mental health and addictions who gets up every day to make sure we’re making progress on this health crisis, not just ignoring it.”

He wouldn’t say how much an NDP government would spend on the crisis if the party wins Tuesday’s election, saying to assume what is needed five days before an election would be presumptuous.

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