The BC government will provide the First Nations Health Authority with $20 million over three years to help First Nations communities to address the impacts of the overdose crisis.
Mental health and addictions minister Judy Darcy says support will be focused on services that save lives, and are culturally safe.
“This is critically important because we know that Indigenous people are five times more likely to experience an overdose than the population at large in British Columbia, and three times more likely to die of an overdose,” Darcy told a news conference.
Over 1,400 people died of drug overdoses in BC last year.
Pictured: Judy Darcy, mental health and addictions minister
Darcy says while 80 percent of those cases were males, in the case of Indigenous people, it was half men and half women.
Grand chief Doug Kelly says the funding, which includes four million dollars this year, will allow communities to design their own initiatives.
“To allow our treatment centres to add to their training and their professional development so they can provide much needed services,” says Kelly.
The funding will support immediate initiatives including: expansion to naloxone training for First Nations communities; peer to peer engagement to support persons using substances with better health care access and stigma reduction; increased access to opioid agonist therapy in rural and remote communities; and telehealth services to increase access to culturally safe pharmacy services.