The Province and the Federal Government have signed an agreement on health funding that includes extra money to help with the province’s opioid overdose crisis.
“Under the agreement we’ve reached with British Columbia over the next decade in addition to a growing Canada health transfer, the federal government will provide British Columbia with more than $1.4-billion dollars in health care investments,” says federal Health Minister Jane Philpot.
Philpott says $786-million of those funds will go towards better home care and $655-million towards mental health initiatives.
She says better home care that will alleviate overcrowding problems at hospitals.
Ottawa is also providing an additional $65-million over five years to fight opioid addiction, $10-million of it coming immediately to B.C.
Up until now, Lake had repeatedly said the province would not negotiate a separate deal with the federal government after talks between the provinces, territories and Ottawa broke down in December.
Lake is also promising a boost in funding to fight overdoses in next week’s provincial budget.
The province is committing another $5-million to the Joint Task Force on Overdose Response.
It says the money will be prioritized towards naloxone access, mental health support for front line workers, better access to treatment including drug substitution therapy like Suboxone, and new enforcement measures against fentanyl and carfentanil.
Lake says he’s asked Ottawa for more money to put more RCMP boots on the ground, but so far there’s been no deal.
Breakdown of $1.4B national funding: $786M to home care, $655M to Mental Health initiatives.— Emily Lazatin (@EmilyLazatin980) February 17, 2017
This morning’s announcement by both governments come as the latest numbers in the overdose crisis are in.
While the number of illicit drug deaths in January saw a slight decrease from the peak in November and December, it’s still the third highest ever for a single month.
The BC Coroner’s Service says 116 people died as a result of illicit drug use, more than three people a day.
December’s number, which is the highest number on record, was 142.
A total of 914 people died from drug overdose deaths in the province last year.
With files from Matt Lee, Ria Renouf, Emily Lazatin, Canadian Press