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Recent statistics were released by the BC Coroner reporting the staggering number of deaths due to overdose.  May, 2020 recorded the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths ever recorded in a month in BC (170).  That number equates to 5.5 deaths per day. The  total number of lives lost to overdose since 2016 now stands at 4,665. We are now in the fourth year of a provincial health emergency.  Despite investments by the province and the dedicated work of first responders, community organizations and peers these measures to date have not stopped the deaths from taking place. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who has also been leading B.C.'s pandemic response, has called for the decriminalization of the possession of illegal drugs in our province. Dr. Henry released a report “Stopping The Harm” in 2019 stating “ in the context of the continuing overdose crisis that is affecting families and communities across BC, the province cannot wait for action at the federal level. Immediate provincial action is warranted and I recommend that the Province of BC urgently move to decriminalize people who possess controlled substances for personal use.  This is an important additional step to stem the tide of unprecedented deaths”.

Decriminalization is a critical step our government must take in minimizing the deaths. It means that people who possess their own drugs for personal use will not be punished by law enforcement.  Our province continues to spend exorbitant funds policing the overdose crisis. There is widespread recognition that policing and incarceration are not the solution to helping people who use drugs. A criminal justice approach does not address what is a health and human rights issue. 

Our parents, children and friends are dying at an alarming rate.  We know that redirecting funds to healthcare is desperately needed.  The South Island Community Overdose Response Network of Victoria, BC ( along with Moms Stop The Harm ( asks for your support in signing this petition in order to save the lives of those who continue to be at risk.

(Photo courtesy of Moms Stop The Harm)

In memory of all those we have loved and lost……