Pastor rallies community to help people in need after deadly string of drug overdoses

A pastor in Kamloops, B.C. has appealed to his church members to come together to help others in need, following a rash of overdoses in the city, CTV News reported.

READ MORE: Heroin overdoses kill 175 so far this year in New Brunswick

Watch the full report from CTV News below:

“The anger within me has been so heightened that I have begun to call people and just call them on their phones and just hope that I don’t get an actual answer,” Pastor Leo Welsh told CTV News.

However, after an outpouring of support from parishioners, Welsh has been asked to help find several family members of long-term addiction who were looking for long-term addiction programs.

He initially appealed to his congregation to donate money to organizations in need, but soon realized the benefits of encouraging members to volunteer.

READ MORE: Stats Can confirms how widespread Opioid Crisis has become in Canada

A fundraiser was set up and helped to pay for counselling sessions for seven people. Two of those people have since entered treatment and the remaining four are seeking help.

“By rallying together, by working with one another, by challenging every member of the community to step forward and help, this opportunity is only now starting to fill up,” Welsh said.

“It’s really been very stunning.”

READ MORE: Opioid deaths are now outpacing car accidents in Canada

Welsh said he never thought the drug problem would hit home so close to home. In an emotional letter to parishioners he also asked them to pray for victims of the drug crisis.

“We have all been connected. We’ve all felt it,” he said.

“Hopefully we’ll soon see it begin to die down.”

WATCH: WCB launches opioid abuse awareness campaign

A government solution to the growing opioid crisis has been slow to arrive, as the province continues to suffer from the effects of the use of illicit drugs.

WATCH: Number of opioid overdose deaths hits 1,000 for 2018

Both the House of Commons and Senate have spent the last month debating an NDP-Conservative private member’s bill intended to address the drug crisis in Canada. Bill C-55 passed its second reading in the House of Commons last week, but is currently stalled in the Senate.

READ MORE: Liberals launch parliamentary investigation into possible fentanyl crisis link to tech firms

Both the government and the opposition have been deeply critical of the other party’s bill, which would make more clandestine pill presses illegal in Canada. Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor has said the government would support the private member’s bill as it stands, but that all options have to be on the table to curb the rising number of overdose deaths.

The bill will need to go through final readings before it can go to the Senate.

READ MORE: Is Canada fast becoming a drug addiction hot spot?

In July 2017, the RCMP reported almost 1,200 overdoses in the province in six months. However, due to the alarming increase in deaths and drug use, the number of deaths have risen even further.

So far this year, 176 people have died of overdoses in the province, making it the worst year for overdose deaths in 20 years.

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