At least one B.C. school district says it isn’t going to wait for provincial funding to get Naloxone kits into schools.
Chair of the Nicola-Similkameen school district Gordon Comeau says they’ve purchased four Naloxone kits for the highschools in Merritt and Princeton, as well as two alternative schools.
He says it’s in an effort to respond to the fentanyl epidemic plaguing the province.
“We have socio-economic issues. We do have a fair amount of drug traffic go through the north end of our community, it seems to be a hub for transportation, so we don’t want to take a chance that it is going to fall into the hands of somebody, either not by accident or by accident, and being unprepared would be unacceptable knowing those risk factors,” he said.
Comeau says the initiative cost about $300 total.
Nine young people aged 10-18 have died this year in B.C. from drug overdoses, but provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall says that is only one percent of all recorded overdoses in the province.
He says there isn’t enough evidence for him to justify recommending a province-wide overdose strategy in public schools.
“We’ve never had an overdose reported on school grounds from somebody who was in that school during the school day,” Kendall said.
The Maple-Ridge Pitt Meadows school district wants the province to pay for Naloxone kits in all B.C. middle and high schools in response to the fentanyl epidemic.
Kendall disagrees, saying it should be a district by district decision.
“It would be well within the budgetary capacity of a school district to purchase a Naloxone kit or two for that school. I didn’t think based on the evidence that we had seen that it would be a sensible requirement for every school,” he said.
The move comes as the province and Ottawa unveil new steps aimed at curbing the overdose crisis, which has claimed more than 622 lives in B.C. alone this year.
The province is opening four new “overdose prevention sites,” along with a new mobile medical unit on the Downtown Eastside.
Meanwhile, the federal government has unveiled legislation that would streamline the process for opening a supervised consumption site and more tightly restrict pill presses.