Detox and treatment beds hard to come by as toxic drugs continue to claim lives in B.C.
At a time when toxic drugs are killing more than a dozen British Columbians every two days – making the choice to get clean can be a life-or-death decision.
"When somebody affected by substance use wants help, it needs to be immediate. Depending on what is happening in their chaotic life, they need the help when they're asking for it,” said Correne Antrobus who has a close loved one battling addiction.
“We want to grab that moment. And it hasn't changed. My journey's been going on for 13 years."
Antrobus volunteers with Moms Stop the Harm, an advocacy group working to reduce stigma around drug use and raise awareness of the need for better supports.
The organization supports the province’s move to work with the federal government to decriminalize small amounts of certain illicit drugs in the province.
As part of a three-year pilot project, possession of 2.5 grams or less of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and MDMA for personal use will not result in criminal charges.
Instead, the province says police will offer drug users a resource card directing them to available services such as detox and treatment.
The problem is, even B.C.’s Mental Health and Addictions Minister doesn’t know how long the wait times are for those services.
“Access to waitlists is something that we, at some point, need to be in a better position to respond to,” Jennifer Whiteside said. “We need to do some groundwork with health authorities and with our partners in order to have the information that we need in order to be able to provide that information.”
She said there 3,260 publicly funded treatment beds in the province.
But since 2017, the government has added just 320 new spaces. In that same time period, thousands have died. Since a public health emergency was declared in April of 2016, 11,171 lives have been lost, according to an update from the province's chief coroner Tuesday.
"B.C. is interested in having decriminalization succeed and part of that may be having to develop more of the health-care system so that people can get the help that they need, when they need it,” said Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, deputy medical officer of health at Vancouver Coastal Health.
Lysyshyn also said the conversation shouldn’t only be focused on the number of inpatient beds because many people overcoming opioid addiction do better living at home and accessing community-based treatments.
However, he did acknowledge that outpatient programs can be less effective for people without stable housing which is the case for a lot of people who use illicit substances.
Antrobus says the toxic drug supply on the streets has turned even casual use into a game of Russian roulette, causing her stress and worry about her loved one.
"So far we've been just so fortunate that she hasn't died. But so many of her friends are gone,” she said. “Even from her high school, seven from her grad class. That's a lot."
Now that drugs have been decriminalized to reduce the stigma, she’d like to see more money poured into services like detox and treatment which can save lives if they can be accessed by those who want and need them.
Vancouver Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Canada makes amendments to foreign homebuyers ban – here's what they look like
Months after Canada's ban on foreign homebuyers took effect on Jan. 1, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has made several amendments to the legislation allowing non-Canadians to purchase residential properties in certain circumstances.
'Leave this with me': Alberta premier heard on call with COVID-19 protester
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, in a leaked cellphone call, commiserated with a COVID-19 protester about his trial while divulging to him there was an internal dispute over how Crown prosecutors were handling COVID-19 cases.
What is the grocery rebate in federal budget 2023? Key questions, answered
To help offset rising living expenses, the Government of Canada has introduced a one-time grocery rebate for low- and modest-income Canadians. Here is what we know about the rebate.
RCMP arrest 5 while executing search warrant at Wet'suwet'en protest camp
RCMP officers executed a search warrant at a protest camp on Wet'suwet'en traditional territory near the under-construction Coastal GasLink pipeline Wednesday.
'Compostable' food packaging may contain hazardous 'forever chemicals': Canadian study
As Canada phases out single-use plastics, more restaurants are opting to use 'compostable' takeout containers. But a new study suggests some of these supposedly eco-friendly containers may pose hazards to our health and the environment.
Could Usain Bolt outrun a 900-pound dinosaur? Physics professor poses the question
A new academic paper pits legendary sprinter Usain Bolt against a 900-pound dinosaur to see who could run a 100-metre distance the fastest.
Recalled in Canada: Change tables over entrapment hazard, hoodies due to risk of choking
Health Canada has issued two recalls, one for change tables over an entrapment hazard and another for bamboo nursing hoodies due to a risk of choking.
Many Canadians like to tell 'white lies' about home-cooked meals: survey
Have you ever had to lie about the quality of a home-cooked meal to protect someone's feelings? According to a new survey by Research Co. you’re not the only one.
Spending to increase economic capacity is fiscally responsible, Freeland says in post-budget defence
Defending her latest federal budget, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said spending that increases economic capacity is fiscally responsible.
IIO investigating after man driving construction vehicle shot, seriously injured by police in Duncan, B.C.
A man was taken to hospital with serious injuries following a police shooting in Duncan, B.C., on Tuesday evening.
Vancouver Island non-profit calls for more support for women with brain injuries from violent partners
A Vancouver Island non-profit is calling for more support for women who suffer a brain injury at the hands of a violent partner.
Police investigating 'targeted' attempted arson at home in Saanich
Police are investigating what they believe was a targeted arson attack at a home north of Victoria.
‘I started breaking down:’ Friends remember 15-year-old homicide victim
A 15-year-old girl shot to death in the community of Martindale early Tuesday morning, has now been identified by friends and police as Sarah Alexis Jorquera.
Woman in custody, charges pending following Lions Park LRT station stabbing
Calgary police say they've arrested a woman in connection with a stabbing at the Lions Park LRT station that stemmed from a fight between several people.
Lethbridge UCP candidate Torry Tanner's claims against teachers disputed
A United Conservative Party candidate in Lethbridge claims teachers are exposing students to pornography and gender reassignment without parental knowledge.
Online video between Danielle Smith and Artur Pawlowski raises questions over interference
In an online video, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is heard speaking with outspoken Calgary pastor Artur Pawlowski, creating questions about her influence on Alberta court cases.
Man found dead in SUV, Edmonton homicide detectives on the case
Police are looking for help in the suspicious death of a man found in a vehicle in north Edmonton Wednesday morning.
'Serious labour shortage' holding Alberta's tourism sector back: industry advocates
Alberta's tourism sector has a "serious labour shortage" that can threaten its long-term viability, a new labour study has found.
BREAKING | Man pulled from house fire in Toronto's Junction Triangle dies in hospital
A man is dead after being pulled from a fire at a home in Toronto’s Junction Triangle neighbourhood.
A rare weather phenomenon strikes southern Ontario again
Thundersnow has struck southern Ontario for a second time this month.
Why is there no cell service on the TTC? Riders say it could increase safety
The Toronto Transit Commission signed a deal in 2012 to provide cellular service on the subway network, but over a decade later, few are able to make a call in an emergency—something the TTC board members, riders and parents say has to change in the wake of the death of Gabriel Magalhaes.
Bill 15: Quebec tables legislation to overhaul health system
The CAQ government has unveiled its long-promised plan to improve Quebec's public health network. Tabled at the Quebec legislature Wednesday by Health Minister Christian Dubé, Bill 15 promises a major shakeup.
'I lost a brother': Funeral held for teen who died in Old Montreal fire
Almost two weeks after his death, a funeral was held in Laval Wednesday for a teenager who died in the fire in Old Montreal.
Flooded and fed up: St-Leonard homeowners file class-action suit over heavy rain damages
A group of homeowners in St-Leonard has filed a class-action lawsuit against their borough and the City of Montreal, claiming municipal authorities are to blame for repeated floodings during heavy rain.
Manitobans should prepare for a gas price hike according to an expert
Come the weekend, Manitobans will be paying more for gas and the price could climb even higher in the coming weeks and months according to a gas expert.
Brandon pauses public engagement on 30-year vision over 'inappropriate and unsafe behaviour'
The City of Brandon has paused its public consultation on its 30-year plan for the city due to 'inappropriate and unsafe behaviour' from some residents.
Manitoba family launches lawsuit over COVID-19 vaccination
A Manitoba family has launched a lawsuit alleging their 23-year-old son had a stroke days after receiving a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, leaving him legally blind.
Saskatoon police release video of 3 people placing 'large container' in dumpster where body was found
Saskatoon Police Service is asking for the public’s help in identifying three individuals they believe are connected to a suspicious death.
Saskatoon murder trial on hold as police investigate new revelations
A Saskatoon murder trial is being adjourned to allow police to follow-up on "significant information" that just came to the Crown prosecutor's attention Wednesday.
Dog that attacked five-year-old Saskatoon boy involved in three other attacks
CTV News has learned a dog that attacked a five-year-old boy last week had been declared dangerous in February 2022, but the city had lost track of the owner a year ago.
City council waiting for next steps in Experience Regina rebrand
The City of Regina is waiting for an update regarding the next steps for the Experience Regina rebrand.
Regina's Dewdney Avenue strip to undergo 2 year renovation project
The Dewdney Avenue strip between Broad Street and Albert Street is about to undergo a major two year renovation project.
Saskatchewan to spend $6 million for some hip and knee surgeries in Calgary
The Saskatchewan government is set to spend up to $6 million to send patients to Calgary for hip and knee surgeries.
Final report to be released today into 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting
The public inquiry that investigated the April 2020 mass murder of 22 people in Nova Scotia is releasing its final report today.
Cold front to sweep mix of snow, rain across the Maritimes Thursday
A low-pressure system moving north of the St. Lawrence River valley will sweep a cold front across the Maritimes on Thursday.
N.S. regulator gathers info on Ozempic prescriptions written to U.S. patients
After British Columbia singled out a Nova Scotia practitioner for writing thousands of Ozempic prescriptions to Americans through pharmacies in metro Vancouver, officials in Nova Scotia began looking into the matter.
Coyote encounter unnerves woman
An evening walk along the trails of Westminster Ponds in southeast London, Ont. turned into a frantic scene for Denise Singh and her two dogs.
Over a dozen dogs 'dumped' across Huron and Perth Counties
More than a dozen dogs were abandoned across Huron and Perth Counties on March 23 and 24, and local dog lovers are furious about it.
2,700 cattle escape $2-million barn fire
Damage is estimated at $2-million after a barn and grass fire in southeast London on Tuesday.
Northern Ont. family ‘ecstatic’ as 25-year-old murder mystery finally solved
Robert Steven Wright was convicted Wednesday of murdering Renee Sweeney, a little more than 25 years after her brutal killing shocked the community.
B.C. man pleads guilty to northern Ont. shooting, Crown drops attempted murder charge
A man who admitted to shooting up a home in Greater Sudbury in 2020 over a drug theft pled guilty Wednesday to reduced charges.
Driver caught travelling 200km/hr on major Ontario highway
A 20-year-old has been charged with careless driving after travelling double the speed limit on a major Ontario highway.
'Fairly emotional for everybody': Teen struck by LRT visits emergency crews who rescued him
Several weeks after a teen was stuck under an LRT train in Kitchener, he’s now up and walking and visited the emergency crews who helped rescue him.
Cambridge municipal election candidate suing city after names left off ballot
A retired political science professor says he was “stunned” by the way the Cambridge municipal election unfolded.
Businesses weigh in on government’s plan to reduce credit card fees
The federal government is touting plans to help small businesses by reducing credit card fees, but some local merchants say while they welcome the measure, the actual impact it will have on their operations will be minimal.