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

LETTER: Most take on healthcare to save lives, not get more money

Reader disturbed by call local person’s call for hazard pay during COVID

LETTER: Different view questions mandated social distancing

Look at the science behind herd immunity versus current approach to curtailing COVID

LETTER: Verbal attack on foreign workers disturbing

Racist and derogatory comments on social media disheartening and disappointing to Maple Ridge native

LETTER: How about a fashion contest for COVID face gear

Not trying to make light of the pandemic, but how about a community competition, no age limit

ON THE PAGE: FVRL Express launches Monday

It’s as easy as click, pick, and go at Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows libraries starting next week

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping The News to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Police watchdog investigating death of man in Delta

Independent Investigations Office asking for witnesses to May 29 incident at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

Most Read