May 16, 2019 10:36 am

B.C. needs a task force on the opioid crisis, local pastor argues

A man injects drugs in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
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The drug overdose crisis in British Columbia is hitting close to home for a local pastor who saw a woman he knows die last month.

Bob Bahr of West Vancouver Baptist Church said the woman, “Florence,” was a single mom in her 30s, struggling to get by and living on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

She had come to Canada as a refugee from Rwanda in 2002 and worked hard at minimum wage jobs to provide for her nine-year-old son, but like so many others, died of what he calls “the opioid scourge” in April, he said.

WATCH: (Aired May 15) Illicit drug deaths down, but totals still staggering


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Bahr is now calling on Health Minister Adrian Dix to create a task force to address the overdose crisis, saying he’s fed up seeing so many die the same way.

He feels a task force is necessary to address the overdose crisis.

READ MORE: Canadian drug companies facing $1.1B lawsuit over opioid crisis

“The tragedy is that we’re not addressing the issue or the causes of it,” Bahr said.

“We are picking up the pieces after the fact instead of being proactive about creating an environment which can help people before they get to that stage.”

While the latest statistics show the average number of deaths from overdose is down compared to the same time last year, Brar says that’s not good enough.

READ MORE: Overdose deaths in B.C. declined in first 3 months of 2019, but carfentanil on the rise

“Too many people have died and are dying, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.”

On Tuesday, the B.C. Coroners Service reported 268 people had died in the province so far this year from an illicit drug overdose, a 32 per cent drop from the same period a year ago.

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