The head of the largest social housing provider across Metro Vancouver says the ongoing overdose crisis is preventing their staff from doing the work they should be doing.
Shayne Williams says when people come to work for the Lookout Society, they want to help people get back on their feet and give them an opportunity to succeed.
“We’re in the service industry to help folks take the next step, we’re not able to do our bread and butter work as effectively in the midst of this crisis.”
Instead, he says, workers are busy putting out fires.
“Today we are seeing in some of our sites, you know, 10 overdoses a day and it’s become a major focus of the work that we do on an ongoing basis… just reversing the harm that folks are doing to themselves with the current drugs.”
Williams says staff now need additional support and days off because of the trauma they are dealing with daily.
“They’re in the work for the right reason and they can build rapport and trust and opportunity with the most disenfranchised folks out there, but they are being taken away from that really important work.”
He says what his staff wants to be doing is helping people take the next step.
“Unfortunately… it’s translated now to being emergency services and responding to a myriad of overdoses, and it’s been very trying for some of those people.”
Lookout has 35 locations in 11 municipalities.
As of the end of October, there was an average of two people dying per day from opioid overdoses in B.C.