This factsheet is updated with current information on the overdose crisis in B.C., including provincial actions, statistics and announcements.
- Aug. 25: the BC Coroners Service released updated statistics on illicit drug toxicity deaths and fentanyl-detected illicit drug toxicity deaths:
- Statistics on illicit drug toxicity deaths: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/birth-adoption-death-marriage-and-divorce/deaths/coroners-service/statistical/illicit-drug.pdf
- Statistics on fentanyl-detected illicit drug toxicity deaths: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/birth-adoption-death-marriage-and-divorce/deaths/coroners-service/statistical/fentanyl-detected-overdose.pdf
- August 2020: Get Your Drugs tested at 880 E. Hastings open again for drug checking and harm reduction supplies, seven days a week from noon to 8 p.m.
- July 2020: Public overdose prevention site (OPS) launches in Sechelt at RainCity-operated shelter.
- June 2020: Mobile OPS deployed to Granville corridor and service hours increased to seven day per week.
- Fentanyl test strips available at all Downtown Eastside overdose prevention sites, Robert and Lily Lee Community Health Centre and Inner City Youth in Vancouver and at Powell River Overdose Prevention Site.
- June 22, 2020: Powell River OPS announces new location at 4752 Joyce Ave., open seven days a week from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- June 1, 2020: Launch of overdose prevention Lifeguard app.
- April 2020: Overdose emergency department visits totalled 331, down 24% over the previous three-month average.
- April 2020: There were 243 drug checking tests conducted at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH);55% of those tested positive for fentanyl, up 11%.
- April 2020: There were 4,659 visits to Insite, and 67 overdoses reversed. There were 3,600 visits to Powell Street Getaway and three overdoses reversed. There were 12,923 visits to overdose prevention dites and 89 overdoses reversed.
- April 28: VCH launches Inner-City COVID-19 Response Strategy to reduce the impacts of the opioid overdose and COVID-19 public health emergencies for people living in Vancouver’s inner-city communities.
- As of July 10, 2020, the OPS at St. Paul’s Hospital had 336 visits per week on average, and had over 26,078 visits since opening on May 8, 2018, with 116 overdoses reversed. Due to a violent incident on July 27, the OPS has been closed by WorkSafeBC. Providence Health Care and VCH are currently working on plans to open an internal OPS for admitted patients and a new community OPS in the Granville corridor.
- Due to COVID-19, the HUB at St Paul’s Hospital Emergency and the Transitional Care Centre (TCC) were re-designated during the pandemic response. The Rapid Access Addictions Clinic (RAAC) is moving to a newly renovated area in order for the HUB to be operational for the expected COVID increases in the fall. The TCC is now back to regular operations and the RAAC is due to relocate from the HUB by Sept. 1 as part of the fall emergency department capacity planning for COVID-19.
- The RAAC has supported more than 7,500 clients since opening in September 2016, for an average of 42 new patients each week and 2,500 people referred to the community for ongoing care. Increasing numbers of new patients are now accessing the RAAC for risk-mitigation prescriptions during COVID-19.
- Fraser Health is supporting the regional rollout of Provincial Health Services Authority/BC Emergency Health Services Lifeguard app through a robust communications and support strategy.
- Implemented emergency response centres and isolation centres across the region to prescribe opioid agonist treatment (OAT) and use the risk mitigation guidelines and provide access to overdose prevention services (OPS) and harm-reduction.
- Ensured all COVID-19 infection prevention protocols are understood at relevant facilities, as well as support for awareness of increased overdose risk and prevention.
- Supporting housing settings without OPS to implement.
- Expanding access to take-home drug test strips.
- April 2020: Hosted a cross-community action teams call about safe supply/pandemic prescribing guidelines.
- March and April 2020: Fraser Health saw 3,452 (March) and 2,006 (April) visits to supervised consumption services.
- March 2020: SafePoint reduced the number of operational booths and extended hours of the adjacent smoke tent to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to support service augmentation of episodic overdose prevention services. This is for individuals needing witnessed injection support, harm reduction and overdose prevention, allowing for physical distancing without reducing access.
First Nations Health Authority
- All First Nations Treatment Centres are projecting to reopen by July 6 and will be operating with a smaller number of participants, primarily from their region, to start.
- May 2020: Compassion, Inclusion, and Engagement (CIE) is focusing work this year in the Northern Health and VCH regions.
- In VCH, they will be prioritizing dialogue sessions with VCH and Providence to respond to specific feedback from Indigenous women as well as serving the broader Indigenous population in the Downtown Eastside.
- CIE will also be undertaking an evaluation on the collaborative work that has been undertaken throughout the province in the last few years.
- 13 drug alerts, many following Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) drug checking of substances.
- Expansion of take home drug checking to all Interior Health mental health and substance use sites across the region.
- Support provided to housing settings regarding inhalation overdose prevention services.
- Creation and implementation of labels to be adhered to Take Home Naloxone kits to increase access to substance use services. Labels direct people to the B.C. drug and alcohol referral line.
- May 25: Launch of overdose prevention Lifeguard app.
- May 2020: Interior Health has enhanced mental health and substance use services in downtown Vernon, including overdose prevention services.
- June 17: Island Health broadens access for overdose prevention services in the Comox Valley: https://www.islandhealth.ca/news/news-releases/island-health-broadens-access-overdose-prevention-services-comox-valley
- June 12: In response to the increase in overdose deaths, overdose prevention services resume at The Harbour: https://www.islandhealth.ca/news/news-releases/overdose-prevention-services-resume-harbour
- May 20: Launch of overdose prevention Lifeguard App: https://www.islandhealth.ca/news/news-releases/new-lifeguard-app-launched-help-prevent-overdoses
- May 14: Overdose prevention services added in Campbell River: https://www.islandhealth.ca/news/news-releases/new-provider-enhanced-access-overdose-prevention-services-campbell-river
- April 3: New wellness and recovery centre opened in the Cowichan Valley: https://www.islandhealth.ca/news/news-releases/new-wellness-and-recovery-centre-open-cowichan-valley
- April 1: The Harbour supervised consumption service in Victoria goes mobile in response to COVID-19 needs: https://www.islandhealth.ca/news/news-releases/harbour-supervised-consumption-service-goes-mobile-response-covid-19-needs
- Partnered with the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) around its published clinical guidance on providing safer pharmaceutical alternatives to toxic street substances.
- Education has been offered virtually for staff on these guidelines and on the alcohol withdrawal guidelines recently published by the BCCSU.
- The recently-established virtual COVID-19 clinic has a substance-use stream that can connect patients to addictions medicine.
- Northern Health has partnered with BC Housing to access safe isolation spaces and medical and substance-use support.
- Funding for five community action teams.
- As of July 1:
- The BC Centre on Substance Use’s Addiction Care and Treatment Online Certificate has had more than 17,500 registrants since launching in February 2019: https://www.bccsu.ca/about-the-addiction-care-and-treatment-online-certificate/
- More than 5,000 clinicians have registered in the BC Centre on Substance Use’s Provincial Opioid Addiction Treatment Support Program and are supported by 145 preceptors located throughout the province: https://www.bccsu.ca/provincial-opioid-addiction-treatment-support-program/
- 600 practitioners have completed training to prescribe opioid agonist treatments through the BC Centre on Substance Use. Of those who have completed the training, 125 are nurse practitioners. In addition, 60 prescribers have completed training in injectable opioid agonist treatment.
- The BC Centre on Substance Use has published new provincial clinical guidance, Risk Mitigation in the Context of Dual Public Health Emergencies, to reduce the risk of withdrawal, overdose and spread of COVID-19: https://www.bccsu.ca/covid-19/
- To date, more than 3,000 people have viewed the guidance on prescribing safe alternatives: https://www.bccsu.ca/blog/event/webinars-covid-19-substance-use-and-safer-supply/?event_date=2020-04-09
- The BC Centre on Substance Use launched a new 24/7 provincial addiction medicine clinician helpline. The 24/7 Addiction Medicine Clinician Support Line provides telephone consultation to physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and pharmacists who are involved in addiction and substance-use care and treatment in British Columbia: https://www.bccsu.ca/24-7/
- The BC Centre on Substance Use released a bulletin for OAT prescribers, COVID-19: Information for Opioid Agonist Treatment Prescribers and Pharmacists, which includes information on OAT and injectable OAT: https://www.bccsu.ca/opioid-use-disorder/
- The BC Centre on Substance Use and Foundry co-hosted a webinar series on Sublocade. Sublocade is an extended-release formulation of buprenorphine that is administered monthly via abdominal subcutaneous injection for the management of moderate to severe opioid use disorder and was made available in British Columbia on April 30, 2020, through Pharmacare Special Authority: https://www.bccsu.ca/blog/event/webinars-sublocade/
- As of Aug. 15, there are 635 sites registered with the Facility Overdose Response Box program, providing community organizations with naloxone, supplies and training so staff can recognize and respond to overdoses; 1,590 overdoses have been reversed: https://towardtheheart.com/forb-infograph
- As of Aug. 15, 206,756 Take Home Naloxone kits were distributed free of charge from more than 1,700 locations throughout B.C.: http://towardtheheart.com/thn-in-bc-infograph
- Aug. 15: more than 65,000 naloxone kits, distributed through BC Centre for Disease Control’s Take Home Naloxone program, have been used to reverse overdoses in B.C.
- To date, RCMP and municipal police have recorded 725 successful overdose reversals by administering naloxone and 9,854 members (sworn and civilian) have received naloxone training.
- From May 2017 to April 30, 2020 the Provincial Overdose Mobile Response Team has provided support to 1679 agencies and 26,369 first responders, front-line workers and people with lived/living experience/peers affected by the overdose public health emergency in 97 communities throughout B.C.