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Audits find holes in two provincial harm reduction programs

Seven recommendations on harm reduction programs have been made to the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and the Ministry of Health in a report published by BC’s Auditor General.

The Overdose Prevention and Supervised Consumption and Prescribed Safer Supply services were both audited.

“Many thousands of people in B.C. are grieving the losses of family and friends from the toxic drug supply,” Auditor General Michael Pickup said. “The crisis is also an immense challenge for those working to provide care and support for people who use substances. My team and I have a deep sense of empathy for everyone who has been touched by this continuing tragedy.”

The audit found prevention and supervised consumption sites had “no minimal service standards to support consistency in the quality, access and availability of services,” and the ministries in charge had not “adequately responded to implementation barriers, such as municipal resistance, site selection and challenges related to the hiring and retention of staff.”

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The audit recommends “improving service quality, accessibility, availability and cultural safety for overdose prevention and supervised consumption services across the province.”

The second audit on prescribed safer supply found the ministries did not properly monitor the program’s implementation.

This was because of a lack of prescribers and drugs to prescribe, subpar communication between the ministries, health authorities, indigenous groups, and people with lived experience, and lacking public reporting.

Pickup said it was “unfortunate to see such shortcomings.”

You can find the full audit reports here, more summarized versions here, and a video about the audits posted by Pickup.

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