Fraser Health medical health officer Dr. Ingrid Tyler talks about the epidemic of overdoses. (THE NEWS files)

Fraser Health medical health officer Dr. Ingrid Tyler talks about the epidemic of overdoses. (THE NEWS files)

New action team in Maple Ridge tackles opioid overdoses

Maple Ridge one of 18 cities identified for more resources

Maple Ridge is among the B.C. communities hardest hit by the overdose crisis, and will be among 18 getting a new on-the-ground community action team and dedicated funding from Victoria.

The province announced the latest response to the overdose crisis on Feb. 1.

The new action team will build on the work already being done by Maple Ridge’s opioid working group, said Dr. Ingrid Tyler, a Fraser Health medical health officer and chair of the working group.

“My initial reaction was it’s a fantastic opportunity to expand the work and increase reach into the community, and address gaps that are identified,” she said.

Funding for the new team follows the release of January’s Coroners Service statistics showing there were 1,156 illicit drug overdose deaths with fentanyl detected in 2017, which is a 73 per cent increase over the 670 in 2016.

There were 1,422 suspected drug overdose deaths involving all drugs in B.C. last year, up 43 per cent from 2017, to almost four per day.

Fraser Health Authority had the highest number of these deaths in 2017 at 473, and Maple Ridge had 33, which was the 10th highest number of the municipalities named in the coroner’s report.

Tyler explained Maple Ridge’s opioid working group has spent 18 months increasing overdose awareness, expanding knowledge of local services, identifying ways to reduce the stigma against drug users and increasing compassion in the community. Its focus has been on youth and peers. Activities include presenting forums in schools in 2016 and 2017, and handing out wallet resource cards with information, such as where to get naloxone.

“Throughout the last year and a half, there has been an ongoing effort to improve access to naloxone and harm reduction services,” said Tyler.

She sees a role for the new team working in environments where people don’t know about services or cannot access them, by partnering with some of the working groups, including Ridge Meadows RCMP, School District No. 42 and Alouette Addictions.

“This bold, new approach is vital as families in every corner of the province continue to lose their loved ones to overdoses,” said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy. “Each community action team will play a crucial role in targeting resources where they are needed most on the ground in their communities. This is critical to saving lives and connecting people to treatment and recovery.”

The CAT will focus on four areas of action to save lives and support people with addictions on a pathway to treatment and recovery:

• expanding community-based harm-reduction services;

• increasing the availability of naloxone;

• addressing the unsafe drug supply through expanded drug-checking services and increasing connections to addiction-treatment medications;

• proactively supporting people at risk of overdose by intervening early to provide services like treatment and housing;

These 18 communities will have up to $100,000 in one-time funding from the OERC Community Action Team Grants to drive this work forward.

In 2017-18, a total of $3 million in dedicated funding is available through the Community Crisis Innovation Fund; $1.5 million from the OERC Community Action Team Grants.

Another $1.5 million will be available to all B.C. communities, through a Community Crisis Response Grants application process.

The Community Crisis Innovation Fund will also be available in 2018-19 and 2019-20, with an investment of $6 million each year. This funding is part of the government’s three-year, $322-million funding to address the overdose crisis.

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

Just Posted

Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue swift water team drives up the Lower Falls trail at Golden Ears Park to help a women who lost her way. (Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue/ Facebook)
Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue aid woman stranded by waterfall

Hiker found herself unsure of the way back while walking in Maple Ridge’s Golden Ears Park

Coun. Chelsa Meadus
Maple Ridge councillor calls out province on homelessness

MLA says he has been willing to meet with the city, more addiction treatment coming

Maple Ridge city hall recently conducted a citizen satisfaction survey.
Homelessness and poverty detracting from quality of life in Maple Ridge

Citizen survey shows more than three quarters of residents are satisifed

The intersection at Harris Road and Lougheed Highway (Google)
LETTER: Pitt Meadows resident wonders why traffic signals not updated

A local man has contacted the city and road contractor with concerns to no avail

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.
Roof of BC Place a stage for performers during online music festival

‘This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop’

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Most Read