Fewer people might die, following a commitment by the province to spend $152 million dollars to fight the opioid crisis.

The funds – earmarked for opioid treatment – are part of a new BC budget that had a heavy focus on health care spending.

The budget includes 195 new substance use treatment and recovery beds in communities across B.C.

The NDP government says this is part of the “the largest mental health investment in B.C.’s history.”

Through A Pathway to Hope, it says it has a long-term plan to “transform B.C.’s mental health and substance use system,” adding that
“the dual health emergencies of COVID-19 and illicit drug toxicity have taken an immense toll.”

The government is promising a half billion dollars to continue to expand mental health and substance use services to, it says, “better connect people to the culturally safe and effective care they need.”

A large chunk of it, to the tune of $330 million, is going to a full spectrum of substance-use treatment and recovery services, including $152 million for opioid treatment.

Figures released by the B.C. Coroners Service in late March identified 155 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in February.

It marked the 11th consecutive month in which the province has recorded more than 100 lives lost.

A total of 329 illicit drug toxicity deaths were reported in the first two months of 2021.

The total number of deaths is the largest ever recorded in the month of February and an increase of 107 percent over the total number of deaths recorded in February 2020. 

The average of 5.5 lives lost each day makes February the second consecutive month in which the average number of daily deaths was above five.