Minister’s Statement on March Illicit Drug Toxicity Deaths Report
Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, has released the following statement regarding the BC Coroners Service’s report on illicit drug toxicity deaths for March 2021:
“In March, 158 people lost their lives to a toxic illicit drug supply in B.C. It’s a heartbreaking loss, and we stand with everyone mourning the death of a loved one. Our province is grateful for front-line workers, caregivers, families and peers responding to overdoses and caring for loved ones during two public health emergencies.
“Stigma and criminalization are driving people to use alone, and the pandemic is pushing people further into isolation. The illicit drug supply has become dramatically more toxic and, tragically, more lethal. The effects of two public health emergencies have taken an immense toll. People and communities are hurting, and we will do more to stop this terrible surge of overdose deaths.
“After seeing deaths come down in 2019, we know that public health measures can work. We have continued to accelerate our overdose response over the past four years. In addition to expanding proven, life-saving measures such as overdose prevention services, outreach teams, nurses and making naloxone widely available, we are building up treatment and recovery services, adding new treatment beds around the province and trailblazing first-in-Canada solutions like prescribed safe supply and nurse prescribing. Further details on these programs are given below.
“Together with our partners, we are building a culturally safe, trauma-informed system of mental health and addictions care that works for everyone in British Columbia. Budget 2021 invests a historic $500 million in people’s mental health and well-being, and aims to turn the tide on the terrible tragedy.”
|More information on overdose response actions|
|The Province stepped up B.C.’s overdose response even further in 2020-21 in response to the dramatic increase in drug toxicity during the COVID-19 pandemic.|
As well, Budget 2021 provides a historic investment of $500 million for mental health and substance use over the next three years. This includes $45 million to ensure the stability of all provincial overdose prevention sites. The ministry will have more to share about specific mental health and substance use investments as part of Budget 2021 in the coming weeks and months.
Enhancing treatment and recovery
New beds for addictions and recovery care
Expanded scope of nursing practice
Expanded opioid agonist treatment
More flexible treatment options
Better, safer care in supportive recovery
Funding for supportive recovery operators
Improving the substance use system of care
New Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams
New teams to keep people connected to services and treatment
New and expanded outreach teams
Significant expansion of mental health and addictions counselling through Community Counselling grants and support to go virtual during COVID-19.
Risk mitigation prescriber guidance
24-7 helpline for prescribers and pharmacists provides live, in-the-moment support to doctors, pharmacists and nurse practitioners while they treat patients with opioid use disorder and consider safe prescription alternatives to the toxic drug supply.
Overdose prevention and supervised consumption services
Take Home Naloxone Kits
Federal funding for safer supply projects
These innovative projects will provide pharmaceutical-grade medication as an alternative to the toxic illicit drug supply for people who have not responded to other forms of treatment for opioid use disorder.
Community Crisis Innovation Fund
Grants totalling $1.6 million will be provided to escalate the overdose response in rural, remote and Indigenous communities. The grants will also provide supports, including groups for grief and loss, family services and networks for people and families impacted by the overdose crisis.
Community Action Teams (CAT)
People with lived/living experience
Facility Overdose Response Box (FORB) program provides community organizations with naloxone, supplies and training so staff can recognize and respond to overdose. There are currently 661 registered sites in the province and 1,789 overdose reversals reported from FORB sites (as of Jan. 20, 2021).
$20 million provided by B.C. to support the First Nations Health Authority with the replacement of First Nation-run treatment centres throughout B.C.
$29 million was provided by B.C. to the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) to support the design and expansion of land-based and culturally safe treatment services. As part of this initiative, the FNHA has provided funding to First Nations to increase the number of treatment options available to First Nations clients with a focus on land-based, family-based or group-based treatment services.
The Province of B.C., the Government of Canada and the FNHA committed $30 million to support the implementation of a new tripartite partnership for mental health and wellness.
Provincial overdose emergency response for First Nations communities
Métis-led mental health and wellness initiatives