B.C. set to ex­pand over­dose preven­tion

Il­licit sup­ply seen as toxic as ever: min­is­ter

National Post (National Edition) - - CANADA -

VICTORIA• The Bri­tish Columbia gov­ern­ment says it is ac­cel­er­at­ing its re­sponse to the over­dose cri­sis by ex­pand­ing life-sav­ing over­dose preven­tion, treat­ment and sup­port ser­vices.

In a state­ment on Tues­day, Min­is­ter of Men­tal Health and Ad­dic­tions Judy Darcy says the il­licit drug sup­ply is more toxic than ever be­fore due to the COVID-19 pan­demic.

She says funds for the ac­cel­er­ated re­sponse are part of the $10.5-mil­lion set aside to ad­dress the cri­sis provincewi­de.

A to­tal of 29 new su­per­vised con­sump­tion or in­hala­tion ser­vices will be opened, while 42 nurses, so­cial work­ers and peer sup­port work­ers will join 14 new or ex­ist­ing out­reach teams.

A state­ment from the Min­istry of Men­tal Health and Ad­dic­tions says the teams will con­nect peo­ple with sub­stance-use chal­lenges, in­clud­ing those who use drugs alone, to ser­vices they need.

The BC Coroners Ser­vice said last month that a record 175 peo­ple died in June of il­licit-drug over­doses, sur­pass­ing the pre­vi­ous record of 171 deaths just one month be­fore.

Over­doses have killed about 5,000 peo­ple in B.C.


since a pub­lic health emer­gency was de­clared in 2016 as the il­licit drug sup­ply was tainted by sub­stances in­clud­ing the pow­er­ful opi­oid fen­tanyl.

Katrina Jensen, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Victoria-based AVI Health and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices, says the mea­sures are a “huge step in the right di­rec­tion” to­ward supporting drug users.

“This will make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in en­hanc­ing over­dose preven­tion ser­vices and in­creas­ing ac­cess to safe sup­ply, which in turn will help sup­port more peo­ple dur­ing this chal­leng­ing time,” Jensen says in the state­ment.

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