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Auditor general says B.C. did not have effective implementation of overdose prevention

A three-year audit into the province’s implementation of overdose prevention and supervised consumption says it was not effective.

The audit from auditor general Michael Pickup issued seven recommendations to the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and the Ministry of Health.

The audit found that the ministries did monitor operational performance, funding, and reported publicly on the implementation of overdose prevention and supervised consumption services.

Other positives included framework development for data collection, funding monitoring and funding adjustment and evaluation of prescribed safer supply.

However, it says deficiencies in operational guidance lacked minimum service standards and did not always reflect engagement with health authorities, people with lived and living experience and Indigenous peoples.

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It also found “persistent” challenges and barriers to province-wide implementation were not addressed and there were deficiencies in target setting and evaluation. The ministries also didn’t develop strategies to address prominent barriers to implementation and did not report publicly on the performance of prescribed safer supply.

With the findings, the auditor general is recommending the ministries work collaboratively with health authorities, service providers and Indigenous peoples to make appropriate minimum-level standards province-wide.

It also will aim to update guidance for OPS/SCS to ensure it meets the needs of all these groups.

The ministries are also recommended to work proactively with health authorities to develop targets that are achievable within given time frames, create new systematic evaluation, and strategies to articulate the ministries’ and health authorities’ responsibilities for implementation and continue to work with health authorities to create community-level guidance.

The audit also asks the ministries to develop an action plan to address barriers to prescribed safer supply access, and ministries report regularly to the public and health sector partners on whether the program is effectively meeting its objectives.

The ministries have accepted all the recommendations.

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