BCNU Renews Call for Action Ahead of International Overdose Awareness Day

August 25, 2023
Members encouraged to raise awareness of the toxic drug crisis in their worksite and communities

Ahead of International Overdose Awareness Day, BCNU is encouraging all health-care providers and the community at large to unite in our commitment to reduce stigma and provide compassionate care to those affected by the toxic drug crisis. Together, we can turn the tide of this crisis, support those in need, and work to ensure that no one has to suffer alone in silence.

More than 11,000 people in British Columbia have died since the province first declared the crisis a public health emergency on April 14, 2016. Preliminary data from the BC Coroners Service shows that in the first four months of 2023, 814 people died due to unregulated toxic drugs.

It is estimated that one in five people in Canada will be impacted by toxic substances and related harms in their lifetime, affecting more than six million people. For the majority of these individuals, the health-care system has struggled to meet their unique needs. This gap in services has exacerbated the crisis.

As communities across BC continue to grapple with the devastating toll of the toxic drug crisis, BCNU is encouraging members to promote and participate in events taking place in communities around the province to mark International Overdose Awareness Day on Thursday, Aug. 31.

A list of International Overdose Awareness Day events in BC can be found on the Canadian Action Initiative website. Community advocates, like Moms Stop the Harm and others, will be hosting a range of activities including public rallies, naloxone training, education and awareness events and candlelight vigils of remembrance.

BCNU supports the ongoing advocacy of these community members and continues to call for preventive health-care policies to address the crisis – and save lives. These include expanded harm reduction services like safe consumption sites, better access to safe supply, province-wide investments in mental health, treatment and recovery services and ending the criminalization of people who use drugs. It is essential that nurses and all health-care providers unite in the commitment to reduce stigma and provide compassionate care to those in need.

Visit for more information on how to take action today.

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