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HomeNewsSave-Our-Streets coalition wants enhanced detox treatment model as drug crisis worsens

Save-Our-Streets coalition wants enhanced detox treatment model as drug crisis worsens

A former Quesnel resident says the findings from the Auditor General’s report on BC’s toxic drug crisis revealed major support service gaps that need to be addressed.

Jess Ketchum, who is one of the co-founders of the 90-member Save-Our-Streets coalition states the only real-time data point the province has to deal with illicit drug use is the volume of deaths that occur each month – a number that has grown to 14,000 since 2016.

Ketchum told Vista Radio a comprehensive continuum of care needs to be established for those struggling with addictions and mental health issues.

“Whether it’s Prince George, or Dawson Creek, Fort Saint John or Quesnel, they need to be able to get into to treatment quickly. So, with detox and then treatment and recovery and, I would say that there needs to be an ongoing program where people receive counselling for getting back into the workforce and our families.”

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“The drug use, the mental health issues and, homelessness are all connected in so many ways that there needs to be a more definitive continuum of care to the point where someone is ready to go into detox and they are able to get into detox closer to where they live.”

Ketchum adds social issues like homelessness, drug addiction, and mental health are having a direct correlation with the large and often violent spike in retail theft in BC.

“The retail level sees it first-hand every day where they have losses in their businesses where they have to provide additional security, they are paying for security guards, more security equipment and, of course, they have to put that expense onto the customer.”

“That just adds to the cost of living in those communities and in some areas it has gotten to the point where the area around these stores is deteriorating to the point where businesses are considering shutting down if they haven’t already shut down their operations.”

“I think if you were to deal with the people who are mentally ill and those who are drug addicted then much of the crime and violence that we have been concerned with as coalition is dealt with. There will be some remnants of those demographics that will be left and we will help them as we can if and when available,” added Ketchum.

In October of 2023, London Drugs President and COO, Clint Mahlman who also spearheaded the Save-Our-Streets Coalition noted the company’s Prince George location quite often saw threats towards staff as well as weapons being drawn.

The Parkwood Place storefront has one of the highest crime rates ranking in the top five for loss, despite this – they are not closing the store.

Ketchum’s roots to Quesnel run pretty deep as he was the founding president of Billy Barker Days.

He has spent the past 35 years in West Vancouver and is a current member of the BC Cancer Clinical Trials Advisory Council.

In addition, Ketchum was the Executive Director of the Cariboo Tourism Association from 1975-1978 before taking a role with the Ministry of Highways.


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