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

Strong thunderstorms expected for Shuswap, Okanagan this weekend

Environment Canada meterologist also warns of heavy wind, rain and a potential for flooding

Increase in Shuswap bear sightings prompts reminder about attractants

Animal-resistant trash bins not sufficient to keep bears out warns Conservation Officer Service

Chef brings farm-to-table approach to new Salmon Arm restaurant

Darren Bezanson opening Bistro 1460 at Hilltop Inn

Sicamous district office reopening with new COVID-19 policies

The office will be open again on June 1.

Salmon Arm RCMP will be patrolling school zones on June 1 when some students return

Police remind drivers fines for speeding in a school zone start at $196 and range up to $483

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Mother duck and babies rescued from Highway 97 in Lake Country

The mother and nine ducklings were taken to Duck Lake

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

EDITORIAL: Revisiting alcohol consumption

A proposal to allow alcohol consumption in some public spaces in Penticton deserves consideration

Bear fails to interrupt golfers in Vernon

‘It definitely was hard to putt with a bear that close, but we got it done’

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Okanagan toddler airlifted to hospital after suffering serious burns

Vernon’s Advanced Life Support paramedic crew was called to the scene in Enderby Thursday afternoon

Most Read