The B.C. government says prescribed safe supply drugs such as hydromorphone can’t be attributed to more overdose deaths.
Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said fentanyl continues to be the driving force.
“To date, neither hydromorphone nor xylazine are present in any significant numbers. Fentanyl remains the main and most consistent and deadly driver of this public health emergency.”
The province’s prescribed safer supply policy offers alternative versions of drugs through PharmaCare instead of tainted street supplies.
B.C. representative for children and youth Jennifer Charlesworth said claims that this program is adding to the number of deaths is unfounded and causing harm.
“When public policy is being driven by fear, by polarized opinions and anecdotes it actually causes harm,” she said.
“It takes us away from understanding what’s giving rise to young people taking substances in the first place. Young people are telling us they are often using it to numb emotional pain.”
She said public policy needs to be a collaborative approach to find solutions.
“It’s important that we collectively work together to say please don’t believe everything that’s written and come back to take a look at what the data tells us, what young people or people with lived experience tell us and what do the clinicians tell us. Let’s weave that together in such a way that we’re actually making sound public policy.”
Since a public health emergency was declared in 2016 due to the overdose crisis, more than 12,000 British Columbians have died.
Death due to drug toxicity remains the leading cause of unnatural death in British Columbia. On average, six people die every day in B.C. from toxic drugs.