Drug Deaths Spike In BC
In May 170 overdose deaths are reported in BC
B.C. Coroner services report a spike in drug deaths in the months of March (100) and April (117). This is the first time since Nov. 2018 that BC has experienced over 100 illicit drug deaths.
CERB benefits contribute to spike
outreach workers warn
People who work with those struggling with drug addictions are warning that the Canada emergency response benefit program (CERB) — Ottawa's primary support for households left without income due to the pandemic — is helping to fuel illicit drug use and may even have contributed to overdose deaths.
"I just know that all of us front-liners are really scared. We're scared for our clients," said Anne Marie Hopkins, head of peer outreach services for Ottawa Inner City Health.
Word that CERB money was easy to get "spread, as you can imagine, like wildfire through a population that is severely addicted," said Hughes.
He said his group has heard of multiple instances of people being pressured into applying for CERB and paying a "kickback" to those who coerced them. It's not an organized scam, he said — just the actions of people who wouldn't normally behave in a predatory way who are being driven to extremes by addiction.