The British Columbia government has paused legislation aimed at detaining youth under 19 in care after they overdose but the representative for children and youth says it should be withdrawn altogether.
Jennifer Charlesworth has joined advocacy groups in saying proposed changes to the Mental Health Act would deter youth from asking for help over fears they'd be forced to stay in hospital for up to seven days.
Charlesworth says the bill would disproportionately impact Indigenous youth and many of them may have turned to drugs as a way to cope with trauma that could include being removed from their families.
She says the current toxic drug supply, which has led to a record number of overdoses in B.C., requires the government to instead focus on providing early interventions and residential treatment.
Advocacy groups say they were not consulted before the amendments were proposed, even as they've been on committees advising the government on issues related to drug use.
Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy says proposed changes were based on a successful pilot project at BC Children's Hospital and that her ministry worked with First Nations groups in developing the amendments.