Our local Community Action Team was established in September 2018 from this fund when Kathryn Colby was brought on by Lift Community Services to coordinate the team.
By December 2018, Fentanyl was detected in 87% of overdose deaths in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region. The majority of those who lost their lives were men between the ages of 30 and 59. Powell River and the qathet region was disproportionately affected.
In April 2019 the Community Action Team in collaboration with Tla’amin Nation, Moms Stop the Harm, BC Bereavement Hotline, the Canadian Mental Health Association and Vancouver Coastal Health hosted a series of family-led dialogues in Powell River. The first rural Overdose Prevention Site in the Vancouver Coastal Health region was opened shortly after in June 2019 in Powell River. Staffed with peers (people with lived or living experience with opioid use and injection drug use) who hold Street Degree certificates in advanced Overdose management, and coordinated by Nick Adair, a paramedic with BC ambulance.
2020 was one of the worst years to date for the overdose crisis due to supply shocks leaving the drug supply more toxic than ever, social distancing measures leaving many using drugs using alone, increased feelings of isolation and anxiety, and interruptions or limitations in harm reduction and health services for people who use drugs. Increases in Overdose deaths and injuries were international and non discriminatory. Specifically since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 5,148 apparent opioid toxicity deaths occurred (April- December 2020), which was a 89% increase from the same time period in 2019.
By Local Health Authority January to June 2021, Powell River has one of the the highest rates of illicit drug toxicity deaths. Powell River and the qathet region continues to respond with harm reduction based interventions as the new location of the OPS opens at the CRC and we prepare for the opening of our new Injectable Opioid Agonist Treatment Clinic.