Emphasizing that more people in B.C. are dying from street drug overdoses than from COVID-19, the provincial government is detailing the treatment and recovery care being added from a three-year, $132-million budget commitment made this past spring.
Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson said on Wednesday (Oct. 13) that all areas of the province will see expanded services, with 195 new adult substance-use treatment beds in addition to the 100 adult and 123 youth beds that exist today.
Services include a new sobering and assessment centre in Prince George, new outpatient withdrawal management services throughout the Interior and new regional residential treatment beds to support women in the Island Health and Interior Health regions.
Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer at Vancouver Coastal Health, said the COVID-19 pandemic has led more people to abuse alcohol and other drugs. More people are dying from overdoses than from COVID-19 and their average age is 41.
“This is an emergency that’s killing people in the prime of their lives,” Daly said, adding that the goal is to deliver “compassionate and respectful care” to as many people as can be reached.
In April 2016, the provincial government declared a public health emergency due to the opioid overdose crisis.
Malcolmson said details are being worked out with health authorities, but the service expansion will include:
• 20 new youth beds at the Traverse treatment centre in Chilliwack;
• extension of Indigenous-led alcohol treatment and recovery in Port Hardy;
• new vocational and occupational therapists for Fraser Health’s adult day, evening and weekend employment services.