Three years after their 16-year-old son Elliot Eurchuk’s fatal overdose, you can still feel the grief that has rocked his family.
“It’s very very difficult, it’s just a painful void,” said his father Brock Eurchuk from his Oak Bay home. “At 16 you could see the young man that he was going to be and I was very proud of him, very proud of him,” he said.
So when Eurchuk and Elliot’s mother Rachel Staples heard a 12-year-old Saanich girl has now died after taking toxic drugs, not her first but her fourth overdose, they were devastated and angry.
“Four overdoses and that child didn’t get help? That’s wrong,” Eurchuk said.
Allayah Thomas was only in Grade 6 but had struggled for months with substance use. Her family had fought to get her into residential treatment but were told there was nothing available.
“There needs to be a rehab facility for kids her age, or under 14, because we can’t have 12-year-olds dying like this,” said her mother Adriana Londono.
READ MORE: ‘I feel like we all failed her’: Grade 6 Saanich girl dies of suspected drug overdose
In the five years since B.C. declared a public health emergency in response to rising overdose deaths, 90 children 18 years and younger have died from toxic drugs, an average of 18 deaths per year.
READ MORE: ‘Our kids are dying’: Family members, advocates reflect on 5th anniversary of B.C.’s overdose emergency
Allayah Thomas is the youngest to die so far.
While the province isn’t commenting on her death citing privacy reasons, those in opposition say it’s time sit down together and make a plan.
“This should be another very serious wake up call to the government that they need to invest in mental health supports for youth very urgently,” said BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau.
“This government needs to find its political will to take action on this, stop talking about it stop making statements that are the same month over month.”
There was a 2019 coroner’s inquest into Elliot’s death that resulted in a list of recommendations.
In a statement, the Ministry of Health said the inquest into has resulted in some of those recommendations being implemented.
It said some of the steps taken by Island Health include:
- Adding four youth detox beds at Victoria General Hospital
- Improving specialized youth detox services by adding a medicalized withdrawal management bed
- Implementing a youth intensive case management team in Victoria to support youth with complex challenges
- Expanding the Addictions Medicine Consult Service to provide supports for youth
- Hiring a medical leader for youth addictions and integrating service delivery within a youth friendly space at Foundry Victoria
But Elliot’s family says it’s only hearing more talk when it comes to significant change.
“Paralysis through analysis, nothing gets done because they want to look into it further, they want to make sure they do it right, they need to have another meeting about it,” said Brock Eurchuk.
“It is a horrendous situation that needs to be managed now, enough meetings, it’s time to get to work on it,” he said.
READ MORE: Protests around safe drug supply to be held by mothers’ group in Victoria