“We want to acknowledge the work and effort of our member organizations year over year: we see you. We hear you. Thank you for carrying on and inspiring us. We know that you are working in the face of some profound challenges.” — Executive Director’s Message
Excerpt from Executive Director’s Message: Peers, allies working on the front lines, and community-based organizations continue to bear the brunt of the dual crises of the drug poisoning crisis and COVID-19. It is an understatement to say that PAN members, the people who work and volunteer at them, and the clients and communities they serve, have been through a great deal over the past year.
As with previous years, one of these challenges is the drug poisoning crisis. At the time of writing this message, the latest information from the BC Coroner’s office is that 192 people died in the month of July alone. So far in 2022, 1,300 people have died, setting a grim new record for the first seven months of a calendar year. The death rate (42 people per 100,000 in BC) is now more than double what it was six ½ year ago when the province first declared the public health overdose emergency in April 2016. The deaths and the harms continue despite all the work done by peers and others on the front lines; despite the harm reduction services that are offered in, by and for, community. Bottom line, we are failing to separate people from the toxic drugs that are killing them, or more to the point, we are failing to provide people with alternatives to that poisoned supply.
Another challenge is COVID-19. As we entered the third year of the pandemic, COVID continued to be a threat to public health, a source of tremendous uncertainty and some very harsh social divisions. While the vaccination and booster programs are preventing the significant loss of life that marked the beginning of the pandemic, today there is ongoing concern about what the future may hold, and a painful recognition of how it has strained our public health care system and fraying social safety nets. And both COVID and the drug poisoning crisis continue to highlight deep social and health inequities.
Read on for some of the ways that PAN has advocated with and for members to try and move the needle on some of these issues and support our communities in BC: policy change and advocacy regarding the drug poisoning crisis; advocating for funding and recognition of the community based sector; how our work contines to be informed by our members. Read all of the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S message.
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