FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 20, 2022
WHITEHORSE – As Yukoners continue to experience harm from the opioid crisis, the Liberal government’s response has been inadequate on prevention, treatment, and enforcement.
Statistics issued in November 2021 found the territory had the highest per capita rate of deaths in the entire country at over 48 per 100,000 people. This was before the Chief Coroner reported an additional seven deaths in the first 19 days of 2022.
In a CBC Yukon interview this week, the Deputy Premier claimed the government has “taken hundreds of actions” to address the opioids crisis since declaring a substance abuse emergency on January 20, 2022. This is in stark contrast to the Spring Sitting when the Deputy Premier confirmed that the territorial Liberals have not delivered any new treatment spaces in the territory. Further, she confirmed they have not increased mental health supports for those suffering from addictions.
“Aside from hosting a conference, we are left wondering what, if anything, the Liberal government has done to increase mental health supports and addictions treatment since January,” said Health and Social Services Critic Brad Cathers. “On January 31, we called on the government to take a number of actions including making more mental health supports available in all the communities, expanding addictions treatment, improving aftercare and diversion programs. Contrary to the Deputy Premier’s claims, the Liberals have not delivered substantial action on treatment, enforcement, or prevention.”
The Yukon Party Official Opposition is also calling on the government to give more resources to the RCMP to stop the flow of these dangerous drugs by charging and prosecuting drug dealers. In April during an interview where Yukon RCMP Chief Supt. Scott Sheppard outlined local police’s lack of resources, he also indicated that prevention of illicit drug trafficking and targeting drug dealers is an essential element of any strategy to stop the drug crisis in our communities.