The federal government will provide over $15 million to fund safe drug-supply projects in both Victoria and Vancouver, they announced on Monday.
The funds will be spread across four pilot projects, and will look to offer a medical alternative to toxic street drugs for opioid users within the two cities.
The Canadian government says their goal is to provide safer drugs for people at risk of dying from overdose.
After British Columbia has seen a record number of overdoses in the past year, the initiatives also hope to connect opioid users with health and social services.
“The COVID-19 outbreak is worsening the situation for people struggling with substance use disorder in communities across the country,” said Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Health Minister in a statement on Monday.
“Working with these organizations and the Province of British Columbia, the support we are providing to these life-saving initiatives is another way we are helping people from Vancouver and Victoria, who are at risk of overdose, stay safe and find access to care and treatment for substance use disorder.”
The new projects will take place at Vancouver Coastal Health, AIDS Vancouver Island Health and Community Services, the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the Urban Indigenous Health and Healing Cooperative.
“The pandemic has magnified the effects of an already devastating overdose crisis across Canada. In B.C., we’ve been expanding services as well as advocating for additional federal resources and I’m pleased that Health Canada is working with us to help separate more people from the toxic drug supply,” said Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
“I’m grateful to the frontline organizations whose critical work is so vital to B.C.’s overdose response and the people they serve.”