FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 31, 2022
WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition is calling on the government to take more action in response to the opioid crisis, including expanding addictions treatment, and increasing resources for the RCMP to target drug dealers.
The Yukon has experienced the highest per capita rate of fatalities of any jurisdiction in Canada due to opioids, and government actions to date have been inadequate.
“The current government’s response to the opioid crisis has been lacking,” said Brad Cathers, Official Opposition Critic for Health and Social Services, and Justice. “There needs to be an increased focus on prevention, treatment, and enforcement. More resources are needed for addictions treatment, mental health, and to find and prosecute the drug dealers who are selling these toxic illegal drugs.”
The Official Opposition recognizes the valuable role effective harm reduction programs play, but a real plan to address the opioid crisis needs to be much more than a list of actions focused mostly on harm reduction. The number one goal of any opioid action plan should be to help as many people as possible break their addictions, and live free from the risk of overdose.
“The territorial Liberal government has failed to provide the RCMP with increased resources to help them target illegal drug dealers,” noted Cathers. “While law enforcement alone will not solve this crisis, charging the drug dealers responsible for the sale of these toxic drugs needs to be a priority. The government’s response also does not place enough emphasis on helping people break their addictions and stay sober through actions including making addictions and mental health services more available in all communities, and improving aftercare and diversion programs.”
The Official Opposition has heard from community leaders about the importance of improving access to mental health and addictions services in rural Yukon, and the valuable role sport and recreation programs can play in helping some youth avoid starting down the path of addiction.
Action to address this crisis needs to be multi-faceted and informed by listening to families and communities who have lost loved ones. There needs to be increased emphasis on prevention, so government must take action against the root causes of addiction, rather than focusing mostly on minimizing the fall-out from addictions.