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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Younger Princeton residents are now being urged to register for a vaccination notification. (Black Press Media photo)
Princeton lags behind in vaccination rates

Approximately 24 per cent of residents here have received their first dose

Memorials have been set up to honour those who died during the Second World War. (Pixabay.com)
COLUMN: It’s time to stop making comparisons to Hitler

The deadliest, most destructive war in human history should not become a metaphor

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
B.C. First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Okanagan First Nation band concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, much to dismay of Splatsin First Nation near Enderby

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
UPDATE: Winfield road open following police, coroner investigation

Pelmewash Parkway closure near Highway 97 connection

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Most Read