$175,000 grant for Surrey for pilot project to enhance community response to overdose crisis

Mike Farnworth

THE Province is funding new, collaborative interventions that will help connect vulnerable people to the services they need by providing the City of Surrey with a $175,000 grant for a pilot project to enhance community response to the overdose crisis.

“This funding will bring together teams from various health and social-service agencies, and first responders to determine how to proactively address the needs of individuals where there is elevated risk in the community of Surrey,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “This work will help rapidly mobilize services to respond to the needs of at-risk opioid users.”

The work will be a strong complement to the Surrey Community Action Team, which was announced on February 1. As part of the Overdose Emergency Response Centre, the Surrey Community Action Team brings together local partners at the municipal level — including health, first responder, public safety and community agencies — to develop and enhance a co-ordinated system, which will save more lives, and connect more people with treatment and recovery services, as soon as possible.

“People at risk of overdose need a full spectrum of treatment options and wraparound support services,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This funding grant will make it easier to develop pathways to treatment, so people with substance-use problems can get the right supports quickly. This rapid response is critical to saving lives, and helping people find a pathway to hope and recovery.”

The City of Surrey will use the grant to build on its existing efforts, such as the Surrey Mobilization and Resilience Table (SMART), which addresses high-risk individuals, in order to help combat the opioid crisis and improve the capacity of front-line workers to respond.

Through the project, the City of Surrey will review how to best use integrated service models, such as SMART, to better identify opioid users and connect them to services that can reduce their risk of an overdose. The city will develop processes for referring high-risk opioid users to appropriate services, conduct a project evaluation, and draft a report with recommendations on how to apply the successful components of the project in other communities.

“Surrey is committing significant resources to ensure that data and technology help us be more responsive in battling the ongoing opioid crisis,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner. “Working with partners such as Statistics Canada, leveraging real-time analytics like Qlik and building on models, such as Surrey’s SMART initiative, will allow us to ultimately be more effective in assisting the most vulnerable of high-risk opioid users.”

“Our government’s response to this complex social and health issue, which is devastating individuals, families and communities throughout the province, highlights our commitment to invest in collaboration with all stakeholders,” said Garry Begg, Surrey-Guildford MLA. “A sustained, co-ordinated and concentrated effort will be required to defeat this crisis in our communities.”

Evidence-based, best-practice approaches like these help front-line workers anticipate when a co-ordinated effort to provide services can prevent significant harm to vulnerable people, who are experiencing heightened levels of risk in a specific community.