A syringe and some pills sit on top of a pile of Canadian cash.

Photo Credit: Canva | VanIsle.News Staff

Hand Over the Money!

BC towns say it's time to collect on opioid crisis settlement

Opioid settlement money should be used to make safe injection sites safer

Do you remember the government’s big win in June? They sued Purdue Pharma for their part in BC’s opioid crisis. It was a $150 million settlement.

It was the largest settlement of a government healthcare cost claim in Canadian history.

Now, everyone wants a piece of the pie.

Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) delegates are asking the provincial government to hand over part of the money. They want it to help clean up supervised injection sites and make them safer for everyone.

“There are financial consequences due to the opioid and overdose crisis that are currently being covered by local budgets, and local police, fire and bylaw departments,” one resolution said.

They want more help keeping places safe. Seems pretty, fair honestly.

In 2020, the UBCM asked the province to start an effective retrieval and safe disposal program for used needles.

The province came through with a bit of help. Twenty-four cities got grants of up to $50,000 through the Community Wellness and Harm Reduction funding program. But fifty grand isn’t a lot.

The Strengthening Communities’ Services funding program also gave $100 million to local governments to help support folks living without houses.

The settlement money could be used to fund more of these kinds of programs. Funding things like supportive housing is actually cheaper than paying for more cops. So it would be a fiscally responsible use of the money.

Cleanup funds seem to have fallen to the back burner, but they’re so needed. Everyone would benefit, especially in areas that get a lot of traffic, like downtown Campbell River and near Bread of Life in Port Alberni.

Everyone wants to feel safe where we live, and helping keep our streets clean and safe is important for all of us.

There’s still a lot of other lawsuits to take place in the next year.

Hopefully a good chunk of any settlement can be funnelled towards supportive housing and safety in smaller towns and cities.

The toxic drug crisis is bigger than any one town. And it’ll take all of us working together to solve it.