A new harm reduction project focuses on addictions in the Vancouver Island construction industry.
The province is investing $250,000 in the Tailgate Toolkit Project, a three-phase strategy targeted to trades workers, who make up a large number of overdose deaths.
A partnership between the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, the Tailgate Toolkit Project will include stakeholder engagement, development and implementation of a training curriculum and feedback-based refinement of training.
“Workers in construction, the trades, and transportation have been hit particularly hard by this crisis,” says a statement from Sheila Malcolmson, minister of of mental health and addictions. “We want people to feel comfortable talking about mental health and substance use. This project will go a long way to reducing the stigma that still stops people from reaching out for the help they need and deserve.”
In 2018 B.C. coroners reported that of the province’s overdose deaths, 81 per cent were men, 44 per cent were employed and more than half worked in trades or transport.
VICA CEO Rory Kulmala says COVID-19 cannot overshadow the ongoing overdose crisis.
“We are eager to work with Island Heath and all our various stakeholders to develop an innovative harm-reduction strategy to assist at-risk workers from a variety of industries,” he says.
Phase one of the project – which includes focus groups for supervisors, managers, owners and union representatives – is already underway. VICA will also conduct confidential, one-on-one interviews with anyone who has worked in construction in the last five years and uses or has used drugs.
Those interviews will inform the training curriculum and resources provided to employers and employees, as well as guide recommendations to address the crisis in the trades industry.