As the ongoing toxic drug crisis continues to take its deadly toll, the provincial government is teaming up with the construction sector to shine a light on drug addiction in the trades.
It’s been an all-too-common story: people get injured working in construction, use drugs for pain relief, get addicted, and die using toxic street drugs.
Today (Jan. 13), Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson pointed to some alarming statistics.
“The toxic drug crisis continues to take lives at a tragic rate. In cases where we know where someone worked, nearly 20 per cent of those who died worked in trades, transport or as equipment operators,” she said.
According to Malcolmson, the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) has received a provincial grant to expand its Tailgate Toolkit project, a harm-reduction program to prevent toxic drug poisoning.
The project looks to reduce the stigma associated with substance use and raise awareness of pain management, pathways to treatment and other information about mental health and substance use.
An expanded toolkit will allow workplaces to educate staff about substance use to help prevent toxic drug deaths, plus harm-reduction and recovery strategies and employee resources, including weekly support groups.
The province says it’s investing $1 million through the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division and the Community Action Initiative to support the expansion.
As part of this project, construction associations throughout B.C., including the VRCA, the Southern Interior Construction Association and the Northern Regional Construction Association, will host dedicated harm-reduction coordinators.