Perry Kendall stepping down

British Columbia's first provincial health officer is resigning after nearly 20 years on the job.

Dr. Perry Kendall, who declared a public health emergency in 2016 over the province's overdose crisis, will be leaving his post at the end of the month, when the deputy health officer will fill the position.

Kendall has called the opioid epidemic the most devastating health issue in B.C. because of the high number of deaths from fentanyl that is cut into street drugs such as heroin.

He has also been at the helm of public-health policies for AIDS and HIV, which spread through drug users sharing needles, especially in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Kendall was among those who called for a supervised injection site in the city as he educated the public about drug use as a health problem rather than a moral failing.

He also championed the use of medical-grade heroin to treat addiction as Vancouver became the first city in North America to adopt a European model to reduce overdose deaths.

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