Every day lives are lost in communities across BC due to poisoned illicit drugs. There is a growing consensus around the need for decriminalization, harm reduction and treatment, but necessary government action is still missing.
The VDLC, at its February 18, 2020, regular meeting adopted the following recommendation:
Subject: Safe Supply Saves Lives
BECAUSE despite the immense efforts from community organizations, drug user groups and government since the overdose crisis was declared a Public Health Emergency on April 14, 2016, every day 4 British Columbians die as a result of the poisoned illicit drug supply; and
BECAUSE every community in BC is impacted by the crisis, with a disproportionate impact on First Nations people, people living in poverty and those struggling with chronic pain and mental health issues; and
BECAUSE establishing a public health, regulatory approach to psychoactive substances is recommended ty the Health Officers’ Council of BC, the BC Centre on Substance Use, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, BC’s Provincial Health Officer, and Vancouver Coastal Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer;
BECAUSE in April 2019 the BC Government rejected calls by the Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry for policy changes that would prevent people who use illicit drugs from facing jail time or a criminal record for simple possession, despite support from the Victoria and Vancouver police departments and legal mechanisms under the provincial Police Act to set policing priorities,
THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL endorse the City of Vancouver’s Safe Supply Statement and support its efforts to advocate for a safer supply of drugs in order to protect and prevent further loss of our family members, friends, neighbours and loved ones; and
THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL FURTHER urge the BC Government to work with the Solicitor General to immediately decriminalize personal possession of drugs to reduce the stigma of substance use disorder and support engagement in harm reduction and treatment, and press the Federal Government for the same; and
THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL FINALLY write to the BC Federation of Labour, and the Canadian Labour Congress, enclosing a copy of this recommendation and asking them to press for action from the provincial and federal governments respectively.