The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Canada needs more independent media. And independent media needs you.

Did you know that most news organizations in Canada are owned by just a handful of companies? And that these companies have been shutting down newsrooms and laying off reporters continually over the past few decades?

Fact-based, credible journalism is essential to our democracy. Unlike many other newsrooms across the country, The Tyee’s independent newsroom is stable and growing.

How are we able to do this? The Tyee Builder program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip into our editorial budget so that we can keep doing what we do best: fact-based, in-depth reporting on issues that matter to our readers. No paywall. No junk. Just good journalism.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to be Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
News
  |  
Health
  |  
Rights + Justice
  |  
BC Politics

Advocates Blast BC’s Overdose Crisis Response and Quit Consultations

‘I’m not going to stand at an open hole digging a grave with John Horgan,’ says Garth Mullins.

Moira Wyton 19 Aug 2020 | TheTyee.ca

Moira Wyton is The Tyee’s health reporter. Follow her @moirawyton or reach her here. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

Four leading experts and advocates for drug users are quitting provincial overdose crisis response committees over what they say is willful government inaction in the face of an increasingly deadly poisoned drug crisis.

“I’m not going to stand at an open hole digging a grave with John Horgan,” said activist and journalist Garth Mullins.

The premier’s July 16 comment rejecting comparisons between the government’s responses to COVID-19 and the overdose crisis was the last straw for Mullins, who is a member of the BC Association of People on Methadone and has consulted with government on a number of committees for years.

Horgan said COVID-19 is “an insidious virus that affects anyone, at any time, and we have an opioid crisis that involves people using drugs — those are choices, initially, and then they become dependencies.”

Horgan apologized for the comment the next day, but Mullins said his initial choice of words showed the government isn’t as committed to saving the lives of people who use drugs as it is to reducing transmission of COVID-19.

“They derive a lot of legitimacy from having [drug users and activists] at the table,” said Mullins. “But honestly, they don’t have a plan.”

Mullins, long-time drug user activist Dean Wilson, Moms Stop the Harm co-founder Leslie McBain and BC-Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors president Hawkfeather Peterson wrote Horgan Friday to tell him they were withdrawing their expertise from committees until they have a meeting with him to discuss their concerns.

The letter was also addressed to Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy and Health Minister Adrian Dix.

“In light of the record number of overdose deaths in British Columbia, especially during COVID, but also in [the] past five years, we are urgently seeking a meeting with yourself, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions in order to plan the rapid implementation of safe supply to address the overdose crisis and also to reset the way our groups work with the provincial government,” the letter reads.

McBain said consultation during the pandemic especially had felt like sitting at “the kids table.”

Suggestions like a major expansion of safe supply programs to replace the increasingly poisoned and unpredictable illicit supplies were ignored, McBain said, even as overdose fatalities rose to their highest historical levels in May and then again in June. Numbers for July are expected next week, and advocates are bracing for another brutal monthly toll.

Darcy will be reaching out to the four in the coming weeks, a spokesperson said in an email.

“The perspectives of people with lived experience are at the core of the work we do as a ministry,” said the statement, noting the government has expanded safe supply. “There’s much more to do to save lives and we continue to listen to people as we evaluate that guidance.”

But committee members said they felt complicit in “warm and fuzzy propaganda” rather than real change, and leaving was the only option.

“They wring their hands as if it has nothing to do with them, when they’re the authors of it,” said Mullins. “We’re trying to figure out how we can get them to announce a real plan.”

He would like to see the government set a goal of cutting overdose deaths at least in half within a year and develop a clear plan to achieve it.

Other experts and committee members should withdraw from government consultations to support the effort to bring real change to an ineffective response, he said.

“There’s a very easy metric to see if your program is working, because it’s written in the coroner’s report.”

Mullins had not heard back from the government by Wednesday afternoon.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free.

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Do not:

  •  Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully, threaten, name-call or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, downvote, or flag suspect activity
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities

Do:

  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls and flag violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Stay on topic
  • Connect with each other

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Do You Think the Injunction at Fairy Creek Will Be Reinstated?

Take this week's poll