Langley City Mayor Ted Schaffer welcomes the Community Action Team (CAT) and $100,000 funding intended to combat the opioid crisis.
On Thursday, B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy announced Thursday that the province was committing $1.5 million to CATs in 18 communities, including a team for the Langleys.
#BCEHS is closely tracking the overdose crisis all around the province. Here is a closer look at our paramedics and dispatchers response this past week.#stopoverdose #patientcare pic.twitter.com/5Z6Zh3IWvA
— EmergHealthServices (@BC_EHS) February 2, 2018
Schaffer said City has been doing what it can but needs help from other levels of government.
“The provincial government is finally starting to do something and to listen to us,” he said.
He noted that mental health issues in the community are linked to drug issues in the community in many instances.
Schaffer said drug users sometimes prey upon vulnerable populations such as seniors. Langley City has the highest proportion of seniors of any Lower Mainland municipality.
He cited the instance of a home where some mental challenged adults were living.
“They had this nice little house and the bad guys found out about them, befriended them,” Schaffer said. “I don’t know how many, six or so, were living in the garage, in their house. These poor individuals were just trying to get on with life. The bad guys came in and it was basically a crack shack.”
He said the City ends up being “Ground Zero” for problems because it attracts people from around the region, including the retail sector and even the location of social agencies. Fraser Health has five offices in the City, including Mental Health, and it’s also the site of a social assistance office, he noted.
He added that these social issues are a key reason why the City must spend $12 million annually on policing.
“Our policing costs are high and when our policing costs are high, it’s a draw from other things because we don’t have those resources,” Schaffer said.
CATs will involve representatives from municipal government, First Nations, regional health authorities, first responders, front-line community agencies, divisions of family practice (representing doctors), and provincial ministry offices such as housing, children and family development, and poverty reduction.
Those teams will work with regional response team to determine what works best for a given community and share innovations with other CATs.
“This bold, new approach is vital as families in every corner of the province continue to lose their loved ones to overdoses,” said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy. “Each community action team will play a crucial role in targeting resources where they are needed most on the ground in their communities. This is critical to saving lives and connecting people to treatment and recovery.”
The province is starting with these 18 communities but could expand them to other communities in the future.