Mayoral candidates tackle the issues – Part Five: The Opioid Crisis

By Greg Fry
September 29, 2017 - 9:34am

KAMLOOPS — Where do the candidates for mayor of Kamloops stand on the biggest issues facing our city?

CFJC Today asked the six candidates about five different issues, and will give you their answers this week. (Todd McLeod failed to respond by deadline.) Here's the fifth and final question we posed:

Does the city have a role to play in B.C.'s opioid crisis?

Micheal McKenzie: Educating the public and building the relationship with all people will help. Harm reduction and non-judgment of the people impacted is important. If we do not build tolerance for people who need it most, we will fail ourselves also. The crisis is not people, but rather — "are we living well together?"

Bill McQuarrie: People are dying in Kamloops and we cannot stand by and let it happen while claiming it is not within the jurisdiction of our city. For those saying they are 'just drug addicts' who have brought this upon themselves, I remind you that your children are at risk of dying, too. It only takes one experimental use of the wrong drug on a Friday night to kill, so we too are just one bad decision away from the worst imaginable phone call of your life. As such, it is the job of city council to lobby, influence and directly ask for provincial and federal help. Intervention, education, safe injection sites are the basics for a coordinated and sustained approach and city council must take a leadership role in making that happen.

Ken Christian: The city has an important roll to play in the opioid crisis but we need strong partnerships with the federal government the provincial health ministry and the Interior Health Authority. Together we can reduce the tremendous loss of life and suffering associated with this crisis. Never before have so many person years of life been lost to such a sudden and extreme epidemic. I supported the use of naloxone by Kamloops Fire and Rescue and already that has saved a number of lives. I also supported the safe consumption and supervised injection sites. My concern is that some of the wrap around services that were intended to accompany those sites have yet to be realized. I commit to working with IHA to ensure that what we can do is being done for those caught in this dark web of addiction. This will include fair but firm enforcement where street behaviours are impeding regular citizens and our ability to safely conduct business in our neighbourhoods and business districts.

Glenn Hilke: Yes. An education and awareness campaign on social media, websites and media messages will help relieve some of the anxiety, panic and stress of citizens that do not understand the root issues of our crisis, as well as the objectives and goals of the numerous programs that are aiding to help solve this crisis. The city can advocate and request funds from all levels of government and the foundation and private sector to help the social service agencies working day to day on this crisis.

Stu Holland: No. The city doesn't have a role to play in the opioid crisis — we all do. As parents and family members, we need to reconnect with those family members that are addicted and say, "you are in a war and we are coming on a mission of rescue and recovery." We need to stop having others find the cure for family members but yes, offer support services. Just like MADD but FAO against opioids.

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