The federal government announced Wednesday, July 15, 2020 that it is funding a safe drug supply pilot program for the Cowichan Valley. (THE NEWS/files)

Feds fund safe drug supply pilot program for Cowichan

The opioid overdose crisis continues to be one of the most serious public health crises

A safe drug supply pilot program is coming to the Cowichan Valley, Health Canada announced Wednesday, July 15.

“The opioid overdose crisis continues to be one of the most serious public health crises in Canada’s recent history. Tragically, in many communities, the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening this crisis. The Government of Canada continues to support communities across Canada as they respond to drug overdoses and harms during the pandemic,” said a Health Canada press release.

Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, along with the Judy Darcy, B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Dr. Richard Stanwick, Chief Medical Health Officer, Island Health, announced approximately $2 million in funding for a pilot project within Island Health. The project will provide pharmaceutical-grade medication as an alternative to the toxic illegal drug supply for people in the Cowichan Valley who have not responded to other forms of treatment for opioid use disorder.

“It has never been more important to provide harm reduction and treatment services to people who use drugs,” said Hajdu. “It is devastating to see that the pandemic has worsened the situation for Canadians struggling with substance use disorders in many parts of country, including Vancouver Island communities in British Columbia. Providing a safer alternative to street drugs will save lives and help people in Cowichan Valley access treatment and other supports.”

This project will allow selected patients at risk of overdose to have access to hydromorphone tablets from a licensed prescriber at the Cowichan Valley Wellness and Recovery Centre. The patients will also receive critical wrap-around services, such as peer support, medical care, mental health support and a personal support plan. This project is a four-year pilot that will provide valuable evidence to support the development of best practices for safer supply programs.

“This medication option will provide a life-saving alternative to the contaminated drug supply that is driving our drug poisoning crisis,” said Stanwick. “The recent increase in overdose deaths in communities within Island Health shows a clear need for better access to a safer drug supply.”

Such a pilot project has been requested by the Cowichan Leadership Group, a group of local politicians, health officials and the RCMP.

opioid crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Modified beach volleyball a hit in Parksville

Organizer happy to get popular summer game going

Ballenas students help keep essential community services going

Club donates $1,000 to SOS Grateful Hearts campaign

Rebound recovery program helps more than 50 PQB businesses remain open

Nearly $90K in aid received through Oceanside Initiatives plan

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

Cyclist in hospital after being hit by load of lumber hanging from truck on B.C. highway

A man is in hospital with broken ribs, punctured lung and a broken clavicle and scapula

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Racism in B.C. healthcare: Deadline for First Nations survey coming up on Aug. 6

Survey comes after hospital staff allegedly played a blood alcohol guessing game

‘We want to help’: As overdose deaths spike, beds lay empty at long-term Surrey rehab centre

John Volken Academy searching for ‘students’ to enlist in two-year residential treatment program

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Most Read