Advocates slam B.C. government ads meant to fight overdose crisis

Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs says ads ignore ‘systemic’ factors

An advocacy group is calling out the B.C. government for a string of advertisements meant to ease the stigma around drug use, saying the ads ignore key factors that have contributed to the overdose crisis.

In January, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction launched a series of ads on TV, radio and online that depict all kinds of people, from lawyers to teachers to business people, with the slogan, “People who take drugs are real people.”

The Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs said in a news release last week the ads ignore the structural and systemic factors that play into overdose deaths.

“The greatest danger of MMHA’s anti-stigma campaign is it ignores the reality all of us live through. It ignores criminalization, discrimination, and the tainted drug supply killing so many people. No, we’re not the problem,” the group said.

“We don’t need fixing, treatment, or a doctor’s diagnosis to tell us that the drug market is poisoned and our government isn’t doing enough.”

READ MORE: 130 suspected overdose calls in 1 day, all lives saved, B.C. paramedics say

READ MORE: B.C. doctors told not to limit opioids or refuse care of chronic pain patients

The group has in turn released its own “remixes” of the ads, taking special aim at the federal government to decriminalize the possession of drugs and provide a safe supply.

“People who use drugs are stigmatized by posters that say they need help,” reads one. “Get a real solution. Decriminalize drug use.”

Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs releases ‘remix’ of provincial anti-stigma overdose campaign ads. (Facebook)

The mental health ministry said in an email that the campaign is not meant to address all of the complexities of the overdose crisis, nor is it meant to focus on decriminalization.

“The aim of the campaign is to knock down the walls of silence that keep people from having courageous conversations about drug use by acknowledging that people who use drugs are real people,” it said.

READ MORE: Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

The ministry said the NDP government agrees with sentiments from police and health officials that “we can’t arrest our way out of this crisis.”

Nearly 750 people died of an illicit drug overdose in B.C. during the first six months of 2018, compared to 816 in the same time period last year. Fentanyl continues to be the top drug found through toxicology reports, at 75 per cent.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Beverly Skaalrud handed Mayor Ange Qualizza Fernie’s first poppy this Friday. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
Mayor Qualizza handed first poppy, launching this year’s Poppy Campaign

The campaign runs from Oct. 30 until Remembrance Day on Nov. 11

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health records third COVID-19 death

A new community outbreak was reported at Okanagan Men’s Centre in Lake Country

NAV CANDA is considering closing its station at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada considering closing station at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization is conducting a service review at Castlegar’s airport

Signs are posted at the entrance of newly deactivated roads. (Photo Contributed)
Road Rehabilitation & Access Management Workshop cancelled

The event was scrapped as a result of new social distancing expectations

Veggie basket. (Pixabay)
Sparwood Community Garden on track

A future community garden would be located near Juniper Court

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

The Kimberley Dynamiters' next two exhibition games have been postponed due to an individual testing positive for COVID-19. Paul Rodgers file.
Member of Kimberley Dynamiters tests positive for COVID-19

Exhibition games in Fernie, Creston postponed

Most Read