Province Cuts Police Funding for Naloxone Kits, Now Fighting to Restore Funding

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The British Columbia government promises to restore funding for the naloxone kits to police departments, nearly a year and a half after the province stopped funding them.

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The Ministry of Public Security and the Attorney General told the province’s police forces that they would no longer provide naloxone kits or training on how to use them starting in April 2020. Since then, some departments have funded the program from their own resources. . budgets, while others have yet to run out of supplies.

A Victoria Police spokesman said his department has spent $ 15,000 so far to keep the program going.

“Training and equipping VicPD officers to administer naloxone has saved more than 100 lives in Victoria and Esquimalt. That is why, despite our resource challenges, we continue to use our budget to supply naloxone and train our officers on how to administer it safely, ”Const said. Bowen Osoko.

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The issue came to light Tuesday after the chief of the Oak Bay Police Department on Vancouver Island tweeted that its supply is expiring and the province is no longer funding it. Naloxone is a medication that is injected to reverse drug overdoses.

Oak Bay Police Chief Ray Bernoties said he will not abandon the naloxone program: “I will seek funding in our 2022 budget. I don’t know what other police departments are doing in British Columbia.”

Vancouver police were unable to confirm the status of its naloxone supply or whether the department has taken over funding for the program since 2020.

Police in Saanich, which borders Victoria, said they have not yet had to use their budget to fund the program.

“The kits that we currently have, which were financed by the province, take us until the end of the year. We have enough stock to carry us up to that point. In the meantime, we will seek to resupply our supplies. The Saanich Police Department has had all of its naloxone funded by the province thus far, ”Const said. Markus Anastasiades.

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Meanwhile, the BC Liberal Opposition wasted no time in condemning the government. His critic of mental health and addictions, Trevor Halford, called the move “appalling.”

“This NDP administration keeps saying that fighting this public health emergency is a top priority, but taking vital funds from police departments for what is needed to save lives clearly says otherwise,” he wrote.

Asked by reporters in a briefing on Thursday, Prime Minister John Horgan admitted: “Our arsenal of naloxone has been depleted and we need to rejuvenate that.”

Horgan promised that the funds will be returned to the police departments, but said it has only been a problem for some detachments.

“We are committed to ensuring that naloxone can save lives, we know that. We want it to be distributed as widely as possible and the reserve is specifically with some detachments, as I understand it, but that does not mean: we must always be vigilant and alert and make those acquisition decisions effectively and without problems. It’s a shame that an alarm had to go off, but when you hear an alarm, you respond to it and that’s what we’re doing. “

When asked why the alarm did not sound for his government for 18 months after funding was cut, Horgan said: “We can only respond to problems as they come to us … and that is what we are doing in this case”.

It is not known when the funding will be restored.

Drug toxicity is now the leading cause of death among young people, according to the BC Coroners Service. It reported 1,011 deaths in the first six months of the year in the province.

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