Vancouver City Council has announced $370,000 in new funding to fight the overdose crisis.
That includes $150,000 for “the mental health training and support for first responders,” and $220,000 to support front-line staff and prevent overdose deaths in SRO hotels.
This is the second phase of the $3.5-million announced back in December, what the city is calling the “New Investments for Harm Reduction.”
The plan has already seen $2.2 million passed, allowing for additional medics in the Downtown Eastside’s Fire Hall, a community policing centre, and more naloxone training for city staff.
Vancouver Coastal Health says that between December 8 and January 22, five overdose prevention sites saw 10,000 visits, with 829 patients visiting the Medical Mobile Unit in the Downtown Eastside.
In January, CKNW reported that the city’s fire department’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team was essentially one volunteer.
They acted as a counsellor, which was a full-time role on top of a regular firefighter shift, both jobs on call 24 hours a day.
That officer has recently been working on a strategy with the city on mental health services.
President of the Vancouver Firefighters Association Robert Weeks has said that counselling role needs to be formalized as a full-time position with a clear mandate.