Surrey City Councillor Laurie Guerra. (File photo)

Surrey councillor asks if CERB playing a role in drug overdoses

Laurie Guerra says drug rehab manager told her CERB is ‘probably one of the worst things’ for recovering addicts

Surrey Councillor Laurie Guerra says a drug rehab manager recently told her the Canada Emergency Response Benefit is “probably one of the worst things” for recovering addicts.

She asked city staff if the CERB is playing a role in increased drug overdoses here.

Guerra told council at its last meeting July 27, before the summer break, that she and Councillor Doug Elford had recently toured a drug rehab.

“One of the managers there was saying one of the worst problems, and I guess reasons why people were overdosing so much, is because of the CERB benefit,” Guerra told council. “He said it was probably one of the worst things that can happen for recovering addicts, to all of a sudden get a huge sum of money.”

She asked Surrey Fire Chief Larry Thomas to comment on whether that is “really indicative of what is really going on in the streets.”

Thomas replied, “I don’t think I can comment on that.

“Our people just respond to the crisis and we don’t where know the source, or how users get their drugs from. So I couldn’t answer that, I’m sorry.”

The CERB is administered by the federal government and helps support workers and the self-employed to weather the pandemic financially. Those eligible for the benefit can receive $2,000 for a period of four weeks – that is, $500 per week.

City Manager Vincent Lalonde said the opioid crisis remains a major health crisis “in itself” during the pandemic and that the city is trying to minimize the pandemic’s effect on it.

“There is an uptick in the opioid crisis that is escalating, I would say,” Lalonde said.

READ ALSO: Surrey monitoring traffic as vehicles again clog city streets

READ ALSO More than 50,000 checks: Surrey COVID-19 compliance, enforcement team’s role has ‘evolved’

Thomas agreed that there’s been an increase in fatal overdoses in Surrey lately.

“Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria are the highest three townships in the province experiencing overdose fatalities with May being the highest previous and then June being higher than May,” Thomas said. “The Fire Service is working with the provincial health officer to try to adjust response, to get more Naloxone.”

Naloxone is a medication that’s used to suppress opioid’s effects on someone experiencing an overdose.

Thomas said part of the problem is that a high percentage of people who are fatally overdosing are using drugs alone, in their homes.

“So the health authorities have launched an app for users to use to help notify 911 if they can’t respond after using,” Thomas told council.

Surrey’s next council meeting is set for Sept. 15.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

City of SurreyCoronavirusopioid crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Community Camera: September 24, 2020

Submit your photos to news@ahobserver.com.

Chilliwack’s Gary Robbins maps out epic trail across eight mountains

Robbins spent nearly 40 hours covering 110 miles and over 10,000 metres of elevation gain

PHOTOS: From corn kernels comes an Agassiz king

Nathan Hertgers is the 2020 Corn King

Missing Chilliwack man not seen for eight days

Bruce James Madill last known location was on Paula Crescent on Sept. 16

Rivers could rise rapidly as heavy rains hit Lower Mainland

Larger rivers to reach peak levels on Thursday or into Friday, according to high streamflow advisory

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mounties cleared by watchdog in fatal shooting of man with schizophrenia in Maple Ridge

Kyaw Din was killed by the RCMP during a mental health incident in August 2019

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Most Read