Province cutting funding for police naloxone kits, say Greater Victoria police

Province cutting funding for police naloxone kits, say Greater Victoria police

Victoria Police Departments are raising concerns after a low supply of naloxone kits, and a lack of communication from the province on whether or not these kits will still be funded.

Oak Bay Police Chief Ray Bernoties said in a tweet his department has been getting provincially funded kits for about the last four years and officers were “happy to carry it and administer it to save lives.”

But now the department’s supply is expiring and the province has stopped funding it, he said.

“We received a letter advising us that they would no longer fund it,” said Bernoties. He says the funding cuts were laid out by the province in a letter in April 2020.

“Inventories are now expiring so police departments are now contemplating how to best manage this,” Bernoties added in a statement to CHEK News. “OBPD views this as a serious issue as our members do encounter overdoses.”

The Victoria Police Department confirmed they have had to take $15 thousand out of it’s own budget in order to fill the gaps.

“In the last three years we have saved over 100 lives, I mean that is significant in a three year period and that’s just from our officers being first on scene or being flagged down cause they’re working in the field,” says Victoria Police Chief, Del Manak. Adding, “We can’t stand by and try to provide CPR and rescue breathing and not have naloxone when we know it’s a tool that we can have to reverse overdoses and save lives.”

READ MORE: B.C.’s opioid crisis continues as overdose deaths surpass 100 for 10th consecutive month

Saanich Police Department told CHEK News it has enough provincially funded kits to last until the end of the year but after that, it will have to dip into its own budget to buy more.

“We need to have these kits with us because we know they work,” says Cst. Markus Anastasiades with the Saanich Police Department.

In the first six months of the year, there were 1,011 suspected drug overdose deaths, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. That’s a 34 per cent increase over the number of deaths recorded in the same time frame (January to June) last year.

Today, when asked in a news conference Premier John Horgan says his understanding is the province’s stockpile is depleted.

“When it comes to ensuring police departments across the province have access to naloxone so they can perform live saving interventions with those in crisis, that will continue and that will be funded by the provincial government,” says Horgan.

But, Vic PD confirm they have not heard from the province on when or how funding will continue.

Each naloxone dose costing about $60.

“I think we might hit 2000 deaths this year, which would make it highest on record, so now is not the time to be cutting services,” says Fred Cameron with SOLID Outreach Society.

The overdose crisis was declared a public health emergency in the province in 2016.

Victoria Police Departments are now waiting for answers as they continue to make due with what’s left of their dwindling supply.

Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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