This statement was written by Amanda Tallio and released prior to the government decision to pause Bill 22.
For details about the decision to pause this bill, visit https://globalnews.ca/news/7221793/bc-overdose-bill-22-pause-youth-hospital/.
YouthCO is a youth-led organization that challenges HIV and Hep C stigma. Our programs are led by-and-for Indigenous youth, youth living with HIV and Hep C, and queer and trans youth. We at YouthCO do not agree with Bill 22. This bill does not help to challenge stigma, or to support youth in making the decisions that are right for us!
For many youth, Bill 22 will cause more harm then help. After an overdose, youth are in need of community and connection, and forcing us to stay in hospitals that are rarely set up for our comfort and healing does not help us get that.
Bill 22 is a tool that takes away our decision making as young people, and instead takes the position that health care providers know best. Experiences of Black youth, Indigenous youth, and youth of colour, queer and trans youth, and youth living with HIV and Hep C at YouthCO show that health care providers may not know what our needs are, and in many cases, are not able to provide the kind of care and support we need. Across British Columbia, some hospitals are known for being discriminatory, whether towards Indigenous people, people who are using drugs, and many other people in our communities. Youth in our communities face this discrimination every day.
Bill 22 is not youth driven. We believe youth are experts in our own experiences, and we need to be involved in programs, policies, and decisions that affect us. We want to see British Columbia make policies that reflect our needs and experiences, and have included opportunities for youth from different, ages, backgrounds, and cities to learn and ask questions, and then, provide input. We have not been part of decision making about Bill 22.
These points are just a few of the things in Bill 22 we do not agree with.
We at YouthCO are always considering consent: if we aren’t enthusiastic about saying yes, then are we really saying yes? The approach in Bill 22 - that keeps youth in hospitals after an overdose - will take away consent not only from our youth, but also from our trusted people. Without our consent, is it even possible for us to "stabilize"? What message does this send?
Bill 22 does not provide for youth to access legal services or challenge the decision to detain us. As young people, who in many cases have been let down by hospitals and social service providers before, we are fearful that hospitals and health care providers will not be held accountable for harm they cause.
Our role is in supporting youth, and caring for our youth, because we are our future, not putting them in harm's way. Supporting youth who experience an overdose looks like ensuring a safe supply for all drug users to prevent overdoses and decriminalizing drug use.
We also want to see increased access to culture, community, and community-led harm reduction and overdose response service, adequate housing and liveable incomes, and access to mental health services, community supports, and detox and treatment if we decide that is right for us.
We want to see Bill 22 stopped, and to see the energy and support behind this initiative be directed to safe supply, decriminalization of drug use, and youth-led, Indigenous-led, Black-led supports for youth who experience an overdose.
For more information about Bill 22:
- Health Justice: Detaining youth: Bill 22 is more of the same
- BC Civil Liberties Association: Press Release: Lack of Planning in Bill 22 Would See Increased Drug Fatalities for Indigenous Youth in the Midst of Opioid Crisis
For more information:
Sarah Chown, Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-688-1441