Judy Darcy
(Province of British Columbia Flickr)

The government of B.C. says it will be providing $16 million to provide new addiction treatment and recovery beds in light of the ongoing opioid crisis that has been further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“British Columbians are facing two public health emergencies and pressures from COVID-19 have tragically resulted in more lives lost to overdose,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

May 2020 was the worst month in B.C’s history for overdose deaths. The BC Coroners Service report for illicit drug overdose deaths in June will be released next week.

$13.5 million of the funding will be distributed as grants through the Canadian Mental Health Association, in consultation with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and health authorities.

The province says they are prioritizing grants for underserved communities.

They estimate that the grants will add 50 to 70 new beds over the next three years.

Applications for funding will open in August 2020 for eligible licensed and registered not-for-profit and private service providers.

The remaining $2.5 million of funding will go to operators of existing bed-based treatment and recovery services facing challenges due to COVID-19.

The province says operating budgets at these operators have been stretched to the limit as a result of the pandemic.

This funding is part of the government’s “A Pathway to Hope” 10-year strategy for mental health and substance use care.