Mr. Chair, it's an honour to bring this petition forward on behalf of people from Courtenay—Alberni. They're concerned about the 12,000 deaths of their brothers, sisters, daughters, fathers and other family members who have died due to preventable overdose from fentanyl-poisoned sources. This is timely, Mr. Chair, as the community action team in Port Alberni identified that we've had 10 times as many deaths from opioid poisoning since the COVID outbreak. In fact, in April, in British Columbia alone, we had 117 people die of overdose, Mr. Chair.
They're calling on the government to declare the current opioid overdose and fentanyl poisoning crisis a national public health emergency under the Emergencies Act in order to manage and resource it, with the aim to reduce and eliminate preventable deaths; to reform current drug policy to decriminalize personal possession, which is supported by the B.C. chief medical health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry; and, to create with urgency and immediacy a system to provide safe, unadulterated access to substances so that people who use substances experimentally, recreationally or chronically are not at imminent risk of overdose due to a contaminated source.
Mr. Chair, I would also like to give a shout-out to our chief medical health officer on central Vancouver Island, Dr. Hasselback, who is retiring and has done great work in standing up for people who are suffering from opioid addiction and for the most marginalized.