Letter to the Editor: "Men between 19 and 59 at the heart of BC's opioid epidemic"
The article’s opening sentence (“Too many men working in trades are overdosing on opioids”) compels me to ask, what would be an acceptable number of opioid overdoses amongst men working in the trades?
Of course, any number of overdoses in any occupation is “too many”, regardless of gender.
The reports referenced in your article do not demonstrate a higher rate of opioid overdoses in the trades. With concern for the health and well-being of our workforce, we contacted the spokespeople in your story only to learn that employment category is not tracked and that the comments are mostly anecdotal and not linked to the 780 fatal overdoses that headline the story.
In BC the construction workforce is over 210,000 strong. Of those, 96% are male. If medical professionals feel they are seeing a higher prevalence of tradespeople in regard to opioid overdoses, this may simply be a factor of workforce composition. If it’s not, we need to know. But what we don’t need is to perpetuate unsubstantiated “facts” at the expense of the hard working men and women of the trades.
There are many services and protections in place in the construction sector to care for the health and well-being of our workforce, which is a top priority for our Association, partners, and the employers we represent. We take this very seriously.
The cultural bias towards university education is something our industry deals with every day. We offer rewarding and well compensated career opportunities, and a chance to graduate debt-free. Still, projections point to a shortage of 15,000 skilled workers in BC’s construction sector. We are working hard to reverse the decades-old position of tradespeople as less worthy of our respect.
On behalf of BC’s skilled tradespeople, I respectfully ask that the Canadian media and medical professionals be sure of their facts before publishing such a significant statement.
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