Although Canada’s health minister has recently announced $71.7 million in emergency funding to help combat the opioid crisis in B.C., it’s still unclear whether small communities such as Houston will benefit from this funding.
B.C.’s Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and Ministry of Health are currently reviewing the allocation strategy for the new funding to determine how these dollars will be implemented in communities across B.C.
According to the District of Houston, Houston is being disproportionately impacted by B.C.’s opioid crisis, in which nearly four British Columbians are dying each day from an opioid overdose.
“Its effects are more apparent [in Houston] and our community lacks many of the resources that larger communities can access to address the complex array of issues at the centre of this crisis,” states a district report.
Earlier this summer approximately 30 local residents attended a council meeting to ask how council is handling drug-related issues in Houston.
The concerned group of residents requested that municipal crews do more frequent sweeps of public areas to clean up needles. Disposed needles, which have proliferated in the community, have been found in public areas such as parks, schoolyards, boulevards and alleyways.
Houston’s influx of used needles was one of the topics discussed at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler last week.
According to the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, the $71.7 million in emergency funding will be used to improve treatment and care, and contribute to improved health and social outcomes for people living with opioid use disorder throughout the province, including:
- Expansion of treatment services within Foundry Youth Centres;
- Expansion of injectable opioid agonist therapy;
- Funding of 25 supportive residential treatment beds;
- HOPE Initiatives that will provide resources for outreach to people who are at high risk of overdose, to provide support to connect to treatment and care; and
- Strategies to enhance and improve treatment services across the 5 regional health authorities.
Canada’s Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced the new funding earlier this month in Toronto alongside B.C.’s Addictions Minister Judy Darcy.
“We will continue to build a system where people who need help can receive it quickly and where addiction is no longer treated as a moral failure tainted by shame, but as the health issue that it is,” Darcy said in a news release.
- With files from Ashley Wadhwani