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Powell River a “high priority” for overdose response funding

NORTH ISLAND, B.C –  Powell River is receiving funding from the provincial government to combat what it calls a “high priority” for overdose response.

Alongside the likes of Vancouver, Victoria, Campbell River and Duncan, Powell River’s Community Action Team (CAT), will receive $100,000 from the Community Overdose Crisis Innovation Fund (COCIF).

CATs were established in February of this year by the province’s Overdose Emergency Response Centre, after 20 communities across B.C were identified as high priority locations for the teams.

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney said it’s extremely important to be investing in resources to help fight addiction.

“These are things that happen sometimes when your community is facing a challenge. We know that in the last little while, if you look at the drug overdoses that are happening in B.C, a lot of them are happening in people’s private residences,” she said.

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“We know that it’s largely the male population, about 80%. A lot of them are folks that are in good paying jobs, they’re working hard, and they have an addiction that they are managing.”

Blaney went on to say that when you see the number of overdose deaths rise in a community, it’s vital to make sure resources are available to help fight the problem.

In partnership with the Community Action Initiative, which is administering the grants, each CAT had the opportunity to apply for one-time grants of $100,000. It is the first of two funding streams from the COCIF.

A second stream will be awarded in fall 2018 up to a maximum of $75,000 per community.

According to a press release from the province, each CAT is unique to its communities and can include members from municipal government, Indigenous partners, first responders, front-line community agencies, topic experts, people and families with lived experience.

Local provincial ministry staff who provide housing, children and family supports, and poverty reduction services will partner with these teams.

Among the strategies that CAT services include are expanding community-level overdose prevention services, making naloxone available where needed, increasing support to high-risk individuals and raising community awareness.

The Community Crisis Innovation Fund has a budget of $6 million each for 2018-19 and 2019-20, and is part of the Province’s three-year, $322-million investment to address the overdose crisis.

“It’s a terrible thing to lose a loved one, however you might lose them. What we have to always remember is that we do all that we can to make sure we don’t lose them in the first place,” said Blaney.

“It’s important to invest in this, it’s important for us to address the issue of addiction. We need to lessen the shame and increase the openness so we can have a discussion.”

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