FILE - Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, announces a new mental health and substance abuse support program to be instituted in School District 71 on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. (Photo by Mike Chouinard)

Province announces $3.5 million in funding for community solutions to overdose crisis

Grants up to $50,000 will be available for municipalities working with a regional health authority

B.C. communities will soon be able to apply for grants up to $50,000 to support local solutions to the overdose crisis.

Speaking at the BC Municipalities convention on Sept. 23 in Vancouver, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy announced up to $3.5 million will be available to support community initiatives responding to fentanyl poisoning across the province, “one of the greatest challenges the province has ever faced.”

“Last year at UBCM I heard loud and clear from local governments that they need new tools and new funding,” Darcy said. “We listened.”

The Community Wellness and Harm Reduction Grant program is being administered by the Community Action Initiative. Examples of eligible projects include safe needle collection, anti-stigma campaigns, and peer support and harm reduction programs led by municipalities in partnership with a regional health authority.

The grant application will be online shortly, Darcy said, and will close on Nov. 1.

READ MORE: Ways sought to combat opioid use

In addition to the grant funding, the ministry is expanding the network of community action teams across the province. The teams work to escalate local, integrated planning and strategies in response to the overdose crisis.

Nineteen teams are in their second year of operation and 16 new teams are being added to the network. The new teams will be established in Hope, Tri-Cities, Mission, South Surrey and White Rock, Penticton, Grand Forks, Nelson and Castlegar, West Kelowna, Williams Lake, Oceanside, Comox Valley, Quesnel, Dawson Creek, Terrace, Sunshine Coast, and the Sea to Sky Corridor (Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton).

Up to $150,000 in funding will be available to each of the 35 teams.

READ MORE: Touched by an angel — Abbotsford police program connects with drug users

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said the collaborative model of community action teams has been successful in his community.

Braun said Project Angel, a peer support intervention program involving Abbotsford police, local service providers and Fraser Health, has provided support to close to 300 people.

“Over the past few years, Abbotsford has put many local programs in place to address the specific needs of vulnerable people in our community, including implementing a community action team, an inter-agency care team and a community wellness hub,” he said.

“We are thrilled that the province is continuing to support municipalities and program development at the local level to support health and wellness in our communities.”

The facilitator of the community action team in Kelowna also shared a success story.

Erin Welk, who founded anti-stigma enterprise People Employment Services earlier this year, said their team has already recruited 30 individuals with lived experience in drug use and homelessness to complete a series of learning modules, and accept paid work contracts throughout the community.

READ MORE: Overdose deaths down 30% so far in 2019, B.C. officials ‘cautiously optimistic’

According to the BC Coroners Service, roughly 1,500 people died of illicit drug overdoses in 2018.

In the first six months of this year there were 538 illicit drug toxicity deaths, a decrease of approximately 30 per cent over the same period in 2018 when 763 were reported.

Darcy said those deaths are avoidable and her ministry “will not rest” until they “bring that death toll down.”



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Snow scenes around Castlegar

Our favourite reader submiltted photos.

Castlegar Curling Club hosts mixed bonspiel

The winning rinks were McKenzie (A event), Cooke (B), Nichol (C), and Knutson (D)

West Kootenay snowpack nearing record levels

High snowpack can mean a greater risk of flooding in spring, say forecasters

VIDEO: Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens play to the crowd in Nelson

The charity game was a spectacle from puck drop

Two-vehicle collision near Castlegar sends two to hospital

The incident took place Wednesday evening near the Brilliant Bridge in Ootischenia

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

UBC grad and sister killed in Iran plane crash had bright futures ahead, close friend says

Asadi-Lari siblings Mohammad Hussein and Zeynab were two of 57 Canadians aboard downed Flight PS752

Donation will help support kids camps at the Kootenay Gallery

Castlegar’s Pinnacle PAC making art camps more accessible.

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

Most Read