New municipal funding supports communities in finding local solutions to the overdose crisis through projects aimed at saving lives and improving community wellness.
Up to $3.5 million in funding was announced by Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, at the Union of BC Municipalities convention.
“From day one, we recognized that it is people on the ground, on the front lines of the overdose crisis who know best what works in their communities, large and small,” said Darcy. “By investing in local solutions, we are coming together as a province to reduce harm, fight stigma and support people on their own pathway to healing and hope.”
Up to $50,000 in grant funding for community projects is available through the Community Wellness and Harm Reduction Grant program administered by the Community Action Initiative. Examples of eligible projects include community dialogues, needle distribution and recovery programs, and projects that reduce stigma and help connect people to health-care services.
In addition to grant funding, 35 communities hardest hit by the overdose crisis will receive up to $150,000 in funding for on-the-ground community action teams (CATs) to escalate local, integrated planning and strategies in response to the overdose crisis. Nineteen CATs are in their second year of operation and 16 new CATs are being established throughout B.C. based on updated overdose data and community need.
Escalating the response to the overdose crisis is a key pillar of government’s actions outlined in A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for making the system of mental health and addictions care better for people in B.C. Implementing A Pathway to Hope is a shared priority with the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Henry Braun, mayor, Abbotsford —
“Over the past few years, Abbotsford has put many local programs in place to address the specific needs of vulnerable people in our community, including implementing a community action team, an inter-agency care team and a community wellness hub. We are thrilled that the Province is continuing to support municipalities and program development at the local level to support health and wellness in our communities.”
Erin Welk, Urban Matters CCC - founder of People Employment Services and facilitator of Kelowna Community Action Team —
“Through impactful funding from the Province to support community action teams, People Employment Services launched in Kelowna in early 2019. To date, 30 individuals with lived experience in drug use and homelessness have completed a series of learning modules and are employed throughout the community in a variety of meaningful work. Through this work, People aims to address problematic stigma that is a barrier to inclusion and belonging in our communities. We are happy the Province will continue to support municipalities to respond with impactful local solutions to improve community wellness.”
John, peer co-ordinator, People Employment Services —
“As one of the co-ordinators for People Employment Services, I have had the opportunity to make positive use of some of the worst experiences of my life. I've witnessed the growth in the confidence, engagement and productivity of all of the participants - including my own. I am looking forward to watching the program expand to help more people.”
- The Community Wellness and Harm Reduction Grants will support projects that are evidence based, involve people with lived experience, focus on stigma reduction and/or build community partnerships.
- Eligible grant projects must be led by municipalities in partnership with a regional health authority.
- New CATs will be established in Hope, Tri-Cities, Mission, South Surrey/White Rock, Penticton, Grand Forks, Nelson/Castlegar, West Kelowna, Williams Lake, Oceanside, Comox Valley, Quesnel, Dawson Creek, Terrace, Sunshine Coast and the Sea to Sky Corridor (Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton).
Community Action Initiative: https://communityactioninitiative.ca/grants-training/