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

COLUMN: We don’t need an election. But it’s 2020, so we’ll probably get one anyways.

There are only selfish reasons for the NDP to trigger an election this fall

Plea deal results in guilty plea in fatal Langley shooting in 2017

First degree murder charge amended to conspiracy to commit murder

Say ‘Hi’ to the mountains (and rain): The smoke is gone from the Fraser Valley, for now

Saturday’s Fraser Valley air quality forecast at ‘moderate risk,’ but morning showers leave skies clear

Abbotsford considers hiking development fees for new houses – and schools and churches

City considers hiking development cost charges on new institutional and agriculture buildings

Machine pistol among 14 firearms seized from Alaska man at Abbotsford border crossing

Corey Scott Kettering faces charges of smuggling and prohibited firearm possession

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read