Canada’s minister of mental health and addictions paid a visit to Port Alberni this week to tour a tiny home village that is expected to open at the end of the month.
Carolyn Bennett, MP for Toronto-St. Paul’s, was invited by Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns to tour Walyaqil Tiny Home Village in Port Alberni. Johns says it’s unusual for his riding to get a visit from a federal minister, but he felt that it was appropriate since Port Alberni is “ground zero” of British Columbia’s toxic drug crisis.
Johns said he invited the minister specifically to come to Port Alberni because its toxic drug deaths are more than double the provincial average. Between the ages of 19 and 45, the number of toxic drug deaths is almost five times the provincial average, said Johns.
“It’s critical that the minister come here and meet with people on the front line, so that she can fully get an idea of what we need,” said Johns. “She can see models and examples that we can replicate across the country to address this crisis, but also to accelerate the needs here in Port Alberni and in our communities.