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

Vancouver Island MLA says too much on shoulders of RCMP

Reformed Police Act could look at spreading responsibility to other responders

Lace-up, get moving at free roller skating night at Uptown

Skates, performance provided by Rollerskate Victoria

VicPD uses ‘less-lethal rounds’ to remove woman barricaded in stranger’s basement in Burnside Gorge

The woman broke into a vehicle dealership, attempted to steal a vehicle earlier in the evening

Victoria woman to sell masks on wheels after garage stand shut down

Mama’s Masks stand accompanied Moss Street Market

Langford mulling move to mainstream

Council to consider livestreaming meetings in September

STANDING TALL: Forestry workers meet the challenges, remain hopeful

A look at the forest sector in B.C. – and those hoping for the best – amid mill curtailments

Parkinson SuperWalk goes virtual throughout B.C. due to COVID-19

People encouraged to walk around their neighbourhood, along community trails, through parks, forests

Missed rent payments ‘cause of COVID-19? You have until July 2021 to pay up

Each monthly instalment must be paid on the same date the rent is due.

U.S.-Canada pandemic border restrictions extended into September

‘We will continue to keep our communities safe,’ says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

WE Charity registers as lobbyist, lays off staff, looking to sell real estate

WE Charity said its financial position has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

Captive fawn seized from Island home

Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Bamfield residents, visitors pressure province as anniversary of fatal crash approaches

Letter-writing campaign makes ‘heartfelt, emotional pleas’ to improve road conditions

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Most Read