Federal government provides $15 million for safer drug pilot programs in B.C.

·1 min read

VANCOUVER — Four pilot projects in Vancouver and Victoria have received $15 million in federal funding to provide safer drugs for people at risk of dying from overdose.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson joined Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, and MP Hedy Fry to announce the funding aimed at reducing a record number of overdoses in B.C.

New programs will be implemented at Vancouver Coastal Health, AIDS Vancouver Island Health and Community Services, the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the Urban Indigenous Health and Healing Cooperative.

Daly says Vancouver Coastal's share of $5 million will be used to expand peer support for those who will be permitted to take prescription alternatives home rather than consuming them at clinics.

Some addiction doctors have criticized the lack of safer drugs for those experiencing entrenched addiction, with calls for Health Canada to allow for domestic production of medical-grade heroin that is currently exported from Switzerland.

Fry says the federal government is working to create a homegrown supply of the drug that is currently available at only one clinic in Vancouver for a limited number of patients.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2021.

The Canadian Press