Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs calls on Province to recognize opioid crisis as a state of emergency

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs is calling on the Provincial Government to recognize the opioid overdose crisis as a state of emergency.

According to UBCIC, the B.C. Health Authority has already declared the crisis a state of emergency.

UBCIC is demanding action by Premier John Horgan, Attorney General David Eby, and Minister of Finance Carole James, as well as Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy, on the escalating opioid crisis that is devastating First Nations communities in B.C.

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The Chiefs are also calling on the Government to launch a public inquiry into the influence of international organized crime syndicates in fueling the crisis.

Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, says the opioid crisis has hit First Nations the hardest, adding that First Nations people are five times more likely to experience an opioid-related overdose.

“While the opioid crisis has affected every region of Canada, British Columbia tops the four regions hardest hit, with First Nations people facing the brunt of the impacts. First Nations people are five times more likely than non–First Nations citizens to experience an opioid-related overdose event, and three times more likely to die from an opioid-related overdose; First Nations people are twice as likely to be dispensed an opioid than non–First Nations citizens; and on some reserves, an opioid overdose is reported every two-hours. These statistics are completely unacceptable, and B.C. must immediately act or be held accountable and liable for their inaction.”


In order to combat the growing crisis, the Global Indigenous Council will be holding a First Nations Opioid Conference, ‘Opioids: Wiping the Tears. Healing the Pain’, in May looking at ways for First Nations to cope with and remedy the crisis.

For more information on the opioid crisis, you can visit the First Nation Opioid Healing website.

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