Province dedicating $3 million to fight overdose crisis in B.C.

Province dedicating $3 million to fight overdose crisis in B.C.

File photo.

File photo.

18 B.C. communities, including five on Vancouver Island, will receive funding from the province in the fight against the drug overdose epidemic.

The health and addictions ministry announced Thursday a total of $3 million dollars will be dedicated, with $1.5 million to the communities hardest hit by deaths from illicit drugs.

Victoria, Campbell River, Nanaimo, Duncan and Port Alberni are among the list of cities that will get funding.

Of the $3 million, half will come from the Overdose Emergency Response Centre to support community action teams (CAT), while the other half is available to all B.C. communities through a Crisis Response Grant application process.

The B.C. Coroner Service released data Wednesday reporting more than 1,400 suspected overdose deaths in 2017, a 43 per cent increase from 2016.

Small cities and rural areas have been hit hard on Vancouver Island, with the rate of overdose deaths per 100,000 people higher for both central and north Island than in Victoria.

The crisis fund will see a total of $6 million dollars dedicated in each of the next two years.

The CAT will focus on expanding community-based harm-reduction services, making naloxone more available, addressing unsafe drug supplies and early intervention by providing treatment and housing to people at risk.

The government has budgeted $322 million over three years to address the overdose epidemic.

Andy NealAndy Neal

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