20 high-priority communities receive funding to address overdose crisis

Judy Darcy

TWENTY high-priority B.C. communities are receiving funding from government’s new Community Overdose Crisis Innovation Fund.

The funding will support regions where the overdose crisis is the most prevalent and where local Community Action Teams (CATs) have been established.

“Local communities play a vital role in saving lives, preventing overdoses and connecting people to treatment and recovery,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, on Wednesday. “Some of the most innovative solutions have come from local community action. Today’s announcement supports partnerships, launches local actions, and builds knowledge to ensure community teams can continue to effectively respond to the overdose crisis.”

Earlier in 2018, the Overdose Emergency Response Centre (OERC) launched Community Action Teams in 20 B.C. communities that were identified through data as being high priority for the overdose response. In partnership with the Community Action Initiative, which is administering the grants, each CAT had the opportunity to apply for one-time grants of $100,000 through the first stream of the Community Overdose Crisis Innovation Fund.

“CATs across the province represent a diverse group of frontline workers, community members, first responders, medical and government partners coming together at the local level to co-ordinate activities for the purpose of saving lives,” said Miranda Compton, Operations Director, Provincial Emergency Overdose Response Centre. “Team members are dedicated to making their communities safer, and work to co-ordinate and deliver a system of early, proactive support and awareness around the overdose crisis.”

Each CAT is unique to its communities and can include members from municipal government, Indigenous partners, first responders, front-line community agencies, topic experts, people and families with lived experience. Local provincial ministry staff who provide housing, children and family supports, and poverty reduction services will partner with these teams.

CATs focus on strategies to prevent overdoses, save lives and support people with addictions on a pathway to treatment and recovery, including:

* Expanding community-level overdose prevention services.

* Ensuring the availability of naloxone wherever it is needed.

* Addressing the toxic drug supply through expanded drug-checking services.

* Increasing connections to addiction treatment medications.

* Proactively supporting people at risk of overdose by intervening early to provide services like treatment and housing.

* Raising community awareness of overdose risk and strategies to increase safety.

Each CAT will work with health authority regional response team leads to help identify the most effective overdose prevention and early intervention actions for individual communities, while sharing lessons learned with the provincial OERC in order to share innovations that work to save lives. Local First Nations organizations and Indigenous peoples will also be central to the work of all CATs, to make sure cultural safety and culturally appropriate supports are embedded in all of the actions put forward by each team.

This first stream of funding will be followed by a second stream that will be awarded in fall 2018 – up to a maximum of $75,000 per community – available for all B.C. communities affected by the overdose response. The second stream of funding will address local needs, with an emphasis on actions to reach people using substances alone. The Community Crisis Innovation Fund has a budget of $6 million each for 2018-19 and 2019-20, and is part of the Province’s three-year, $322-million investment to address the overdose crisis.

This announcement supports the work of the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions to vigorously and comprehensively respond to the overdose crisis and save lives.

Communities receiving the first stream of CAT grants include the following municipalities:

* Abbotsford

* Burnaby

* Chilliwack

* Langley

* Maple Ridge

* Surrey

* Kamloops

* Kelowna

* Vernon

* Fort St. John

* Powell River

* Richmond

* Vancouver

* Campbell River

* Duncan

* Nanaimo

* New Westminster

* Port Alberni

* Prince George

* Victoria


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