The comments come after local faith leaders and community workers said Punjabi international students in Surrey were dying of drug overdoses at high rates.
Press Progress spoke to Giani Narinder Singh of Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran in Surrey, who claimed the Gurdwara spent hundreds of thousands of dollars helping to return the bodies of the students back home to India to their families.
Singh explained that many students are not aware of the toxic drug offerings and that substances like fentanyl can be found in the drugs they may be taking.
The supply of toxic drugs claimed nearly 2,300 lives in 2022, according to the BC Coroners Service. The number of deaths investigated by the BC Coroners Service in 2022 is the second-highest total in a calendar year and only 34 fewer than the 2,306 deaths reported to the agency in 2021.
And toxic drugs were responsible for an average of 189 deaths per month in 2022, or 6.2 lives lost every day. The final figure for 2022 will almost certainly increase as investigations are completed and the final causes of death determined.
“University Canada and its members are deeply saddened and concerned by the reports of overdose deaths in BC. We encourage students to reach out to their universities and take advantage of the resources available on campus,” said Graham Barber, assistant director, international relations for Universities Canada PIE News.
“Universities are committed to working with students, government and the community to ensure our campuses are safe environments and students have access to effective support.
“Direct funding is urgently needed to deliver major improvements to mental health care on campus for students. Canadian universities have urged the federal government to honor its 2021 election pledge to create a $500 million student mental health fund over four years.
Currently, BC does not currently collect data based on race or ethnicity related to deaths caused by toxic drugs. But the provincial government said it knows the importance of collecting cross-sectoral demographic data.
“The health and well-being of all students in the province is a top priority for the government, especially as the toxic drug crisis continues,” said a spokesperson for the BC Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. PIE News.
“BC is one of the most popular destinations for international students in Canada, with 22% of all international students with study permits in the country. The number of international students studying in BC with a study permit has increased from approximately 100,000 in 2013 to more than 184,000 in 2021.
“Language should never be a barrier to getting help. This is why the government provides more culturally competent and language-specific services, which is a key pillar Road to Hope – the province’s plan to improve mental health and addictions care in BC by improving access to and quality of care.
The spokesperson said that across the province, psychiatrists, counselors and psychologists offer mental health and substance use support in multiple languages to meet the diverse needs of people in their communities.
“Whenever possible, regional health authorities connect language service providers with people who may have a language barrier. The province is also working with many community partners to provide services in multiple languages.”
In 2022, community leaders in Brampton, Ontario also warned of suicides among the Indian student population and cited mental health and loneliness as issues facing some students. Stakeholders have also previously said visa delays have put international students’ mental health at risk.
Canadian universities said that in addition to on-campus resources, students can access the government’s Here2Talk program, which provides free mental health counseling and referrals 24/7 via app, phone or online chat for post-secondary students, including international students.
Support in languages other than English and French may be available upon request.
“The program is free to students registered at a BC post-secondary institution and provides province-wide confidential mental health support services and is open to part-time and full-time Indigenous, Indigenous and international students. graduate level,” Barber added.
Since April 2020, when the program was launched, Here2Talk has supported 6583 unique students from 176 institutions.
Here2Talk services have been used more than 23,600 times and counselors have provided more than 13,696 mental health interventions and more than 14,000 hours of clinical care during that time.
If you need support, help is available.
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988