British Columbia officials have rebutted claims that drugs prescribed through the province's safe supply program aimed at curbing overdoses are being re-sold to young people, helping fuel the deadly opioid crisis.
B.C.'s representative for children and youth, Jennifer Charlesworth, says her office hasn't seen any indication that youth are using drugs “diverted” from the safe supply program.
Her remarks come after Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre recently told the House of Commons that federal and B.C. government policies are worsening the overdose crisis because prescription hydromorphone "gets sold to kids" by those taking part in the program, with the profits used to buy fentanyl.
B.C.'s chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe — who joined Charlesworth and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at a news briefing — says toxicology tests show hydromorphone hasn't been present in any significant number of deaths.
Lapointe says officials are "closely monitoring, continually, for any and all trends that may impact public safety."
Henry says monitoring has not detected an increase in opioid overdoses involving children, although it may be time to re-evaluate the program to ensure safe supply is meeting people's needs as the province emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 12,400 people have died from overdoses since the B.C. government declared a health emergency in 2016.