Jordan Westfall: How can we accept that the fentanyl crisis is becoming the "new normal"?

This Saturday, federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor will be in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to visit ground zero of the worst public-health crisis in decades. In British Columbia, people are dying of drug overdose at a rate of almost four per day. Across Canada, more people are dying than at the height of the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

Despite the horror, however, this is a crisis that is being described as the “new normal”for our society. This means that an existential threat to anyone that uses drugs could quietly become a foregone conclusion. This is an absolute failure of policymakers to ensure the health and safety of a group of people. The public cannot go numb to this fact.

Hopefully, Canada’s health minister leaves Vancouver thinking that none of this has to be the “new normal”. The minister is visiting Crosstown Clinic, Vancouver’s supervised injectable-opioid assisted-treatment (siOAT) program. At Crosstown, she’ll likely hear from both staff and patients alike that nobody has died of an overdose within the clinic and how prescription heroin and hydromorphone are a lifesaver for the few that are able to access them.

Jordan Westfall writes

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