A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

B.C. has earmarked a historic half-billion dollars to focus on mental health and addiction services over the next three fiscal years, as part of the province’s 2021 budget.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not the only health emergency facing our province,” Finance Minister Selina Robinson said Tuesday (April 20).

A majority of it, $330 million, will go towards substance-use treatment and recovery services in the province, including $152 million to address the opioid crisis and for the creation of 195 new treatment and recovery beds.

This is in accordance with A Pathway to Hope – the government’s long-term strategy to transform its mental health and substance use system from a crisis-response approach to a system based on prevention and early intervention.

READ MORE: B.C. delays 2021 budget, moves to borrow more

B.C. has the country’s highest rate of hospitalization due to mental illness and substance use, according to the province. In 2020, it recorded nine deaths every two days due to the increased toxicity of illicit street-level drugs and many people using alone to adhere to social distancing.

“Thousands of people we have lost to a poisoned drug supply — the parents and siblings, children and colleagues, friends and neighbours whose lives were cut short,” Robinson said.

Overdose prevention and safe consumption sites that have emerged amid the pandemic to help reduce overdose deaths will remain in operation.

READ MORE: B.C. soon to see nurses prescribe opioid alternatives for drug users

The province is planning to ramp up access to overdose-reversing naloxone kits, which have been free to the public since 2019, as well as increase overdose response training. Roughly 241,000 kits were doled out in 2019. An additional 10,000 are said to be shipped to health authorities this year.

Robinson noted the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of mental health, including the challenges faced by youth.

As part of a new $97 million investment in the mental health of children and youth, 15 additional school districts in B.C. will see integrated teams of mental health and substance use clinicians and Indigenous workers be able to provide quicker, more direct support to students.

Foundry centres that offer mental health and substance use services for British Columbians aged 12 to 24 will also double, from 11 locations to 22.

READ MORE: B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

“Many people already struggled with conditions like anxiety, and depression before the pandemic,” noted Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions in its updated service plans.

“Many more are experiencing mental health struggles due to ongoing disruption of our lives.”

Youth and young adults across the province will find it easier to access early psychosis intervention, for which $53 million has been set aside to expand the early diagnosis programs to all of B.C.

The First Nations Health Authority will be granted $14 million to deliver mental health and addictions services to Indigenous peoples through its own network.

An additional $8 million will be used to expand existing eating disorder treatment and care in provincial health authorities.

READ ALSO: New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $83M provincial boost



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

2021 B.C. BudgetAddictions treatmentmental health

Just Posted

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in South Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

Surrey RCMP in the 4900-block of 148th Street, a short road just off of King George Boulevard, on May 15, 2021 after a male was allegedly assaulted with a “pipe-like” weapon that morning. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey RCMP investigating after person reportedly injured with ‘pipe-like’ weapon

Police investigating incident in the 4900-block of 148th Street

The leadership team at Johnston Heights Secondary is looking to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society through the Relay for Life, planned as an online and in-person event (following COVID-19 restrictions) for the week of June 1 to 7.
Pushed back a year, Surrey students well on their way to Relay for Life fundraising goal

Johnston Heights Leadership Team aims to raise $6,500 for Canadian Cancer Society

A detail of White Rock artist Marilyn Dyer's painting New Mountains, one of her works in the show Delineations at Surrey Art Gallery until June 6
White Rock artist Marilyn Dyer featured in SAG show

Dyer and Vancouver sculptor Gailan Ngan team for Delineations exhibit

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his ‘Community Connections’ videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Doug Stone

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Dr. Steve Beerman, of Nanaimo, shows off his Dr. David Bishop Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished medical service. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Most Read