VANCOUVER- British Columbia has announced $20 million in funding over three years for Indigenous communities struggling with overdoses.
Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy says the money is part of $322 million announced in last September’s budget update and is targeted to help First Nations because their members are five times more likely to overdose compared with the rest of the population.
Darcy says the funding will be administered by the First Nations Health Authority to support existing culturally appropriate services and to develop new community-led programs.
The health authority’s acting chief medical officer, Dr. Shannon McDonald, says 55 projects have been approved to provide a range of supports including expanded access to the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, more treatment options for people struggling with addiction in remote communities and “back-to-the-land” therapeutic camps.
She says many of the addiction issues among Indigenous people on and off reserves are rooted in pain and trauma, and diverse solutions are needed to help those who use illicit drugs in their pre-teens and into their 70s.
Data released by the First Nations Health Authority last August showed Indigenous people are three times more likely to die of an overdose compared with others in B.C.