Funding boost for overdose crisis

published on September 28, 2016 in Government of British Columbia

To bolster the efforts underway to prevent illicit drug overdoses and related deaths, Premier Christy Clark announced that the Province is providing $10 million to support a British Columbia addiction treatment research and training centre and to fund strategies identified under the Joint Task Force on Overdose Prevention.

“This investment to create the B.C. Centre on Substance Use will save lives and advance overall public health by improving the quality of addictions care, and the scale at which we are able to provide it. By describing best practices and building linkages between treatment and recovery systems, it will help to address many of the health and social challenges associated with untreated addiction facing the health care system in B.C.,” said Dr. Evan Wood, interim director of the BCCSU, professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia and medical director of addiction services at Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care.

A further $5 million will be invested in additional priority areas identified by the task force, including issuing naloxone and naloxone training to police and RCMP for administering to the public in the event of overdose and for officer safety in case of accidental exposure. Other key items to receive funding are:

  • a community outreach strategy by police and health authorities, including community forums to increase awareness of fentanyl dangers;
  • equipment and supplies for the RCMP Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response Team to support B.C.’s police with drug testing;
  • enhanced enforcement activities targeted at illicit fentanyl traffickers;
  • enhanced file investigation for overdose deaths by the B.C. Coroner’s Service;
  • renovating and equipping new spaces or purchasing mobile units to expand supervised consumption services;
  • purchasing drug identification equipment for B.C.’s Provincial Toxicology Centre at the BC Centre for Disease Control; and
  • enhanced surveillance work on overdoses by health authorities and the BCCDC.

“The prevalence of fentanyl and other harmful opioids has increased the exposure of police officers to these substances. In addition to enforcing the law and pursuing drug dealers and traffickers, it’s critical that they are trained to assist individuals who are in danger and also have the ability to protect themselves. This additional support from the task force will enable the expansion of outreach strategies, drug testing and overall enforcement targeted at dealers,” said Solicitor General and Public Safety Minister Mike Morris.

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