UBCM roundup: firefighting, opioids, disaster response, health care

Officials from across B.C. vote on array of resolutions at Union of BC Municipalities convention

Military firefighting

Union of BC Municipalities delegates Sept. 14 called for Canadian military members to be trained in forest firefighting.

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“We need al the help when we’re fighting these fires,” Houston Coun. John Siebenga said. “It would be great to have the military involved as well.”

Delegates earlier passed a resolution calling for the federal and provincial governments to increase penalties for those caught engaging in trespass, vandalism, looting, theft and impersonation of wildfire officials in restricted wildfire zones – and evacuation areas in particular.


Opioid distribution

B.C.’s opioid crisis requires low-barrier opioid distribution as part of a comprehensive approach to dealing with the crisis, Union of BC Municipalities delegates voted Sept. 14.

The approved resolution said 2,800 British Columbians have died of opioids since January 2016, eclipsing annual deaths from suicide, motor vehicle incidents, and homicides combined,

The resolution called for the UBCM write to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, federal ministers of health, justice, and public safety and emergency preparedness, urging Ottawa to support a comprehensive and culturally safe public health approach to the ongoing crisis.

It called for opioid distribution programs for those most at risk of overdose death while initiating a review process for Canada’s laws governing illegal drugs to create a comprehensive national framework for all illegal substances.


Marine spill response

Union of B.C. Municipalities delegates Sept. 14 called on the federal and provincial governments to guarantee funding to construct and operate marine facilities to respond to oil spills.

A resolution said such a guarantee would help meet the need for long-promised “world-class response” remains needed to protect the environment and coastal jobs.

In 2016, the UBCM supported calling on Ottawa to work with B.C. to create a world-class marine oil spill prevention, preparedness and response capacity.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in November 2016 announced $1.5 billion for a marine protection plan for responses to tanker and fuel spills in the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

He said a five-year plan would assist in restoring marine ecosystems, oil-spill cleanup research and a marine safety system.



Water fluoridation

Union of B.C. Municipalities Sept. 14 rejected a call for universal dental care and water fluoridation to assist childhood dental health.

The resolution said some low-income families do not have access to dental care and fluoridation would assist them.

It suggested adding dental care to the Medical Services Plan.


Life-saving medications access

A motion to have life-saving medications free of charge to people with conditions such as allergic reactions, asthma and type 1diabetes was passed by Union of BC Municipalities delegates Sept. 14.

The resolution said not having ready access to such medications often means families must choose between meeting their basic needs and paying for these lifesaving medications.

It noted Naloxone and other drug overdose-reversing medications are covered free of charge by the province.

In 2016, the UBCM endorsed a resolution asking Victoria and Ottawa to develop and implement a national pharmacare program to improve the health outcomes, ensure fairness in access to medicine, and provide for greater efficiency and effectiveness in Canada’s health care system.

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