Released on November 25, 2022
The province's fifth harm reduction van is now operating five days a week in Prince Albert, enhancing disease prevention, addiction and overdose prevention supports for individuals in the community while engaging with clients where they live, building pathways to long-term treatment and recovery.
"It is critical to connect with vulnerable clients who may not otherwise access mainstream healthcare services," Minister for Mental Health and Addictions Everett Hindley said. "Mobile services provide an opportunity to build relationships with healthcare teams and services while bringing lifesaving supplies and education to individuals. These vans and the professionals delivering their services do important work, and this creates greater opportunity for those struggling with addictions to engage on a path to recovery and treatment."
Evidence shows that harm reduction programs minimize the harmful effects of addictions for individuals, families and communities and prevent transmission of sexually-transmitted and blood-borne infections. Harm reduction is part of a continuum of services that ensures individuals are able to access help when and where they need it. These services include awareness, prevention, education and treatment options that responds to the unique needs of residents with substance use issues.
Harm reduction vans are operating in Prince Albert, North Battleford, Yorkton, Saskatoon and Regina. Operating in Prince Albert five mornings a week, harm reduction van staff provide safer injection and inhalation supplies, safer sex supplies, naloxone, as well as education for clients on naloxone use. Vans provide return and disposal options to reduce discarded needles in the community as well as basic health care such as treating wounds, infections, or HIV testing.
"We have seen success so far in reaching potential clients wherever they may be on the streets and byways of Prince Albert. Relationships are developing with individuals who have already become clients," Vice President of Integrated Northern Health with the Saskatchewan Health Authority Andrew McLetchie said. "Potential clients are beginning to recognize the van and relationships are developing there too. Clients who are accessing the care delivered with the van tell us they appreciate the services being available in the community."
The Ministry of Health is investing a record-high total of $470 million for mental health and addictions services in 2022-23, including an increase of $8 million for targeted mental health and addictions initiatives providing treatment and reducing harms associated with substance use. The budget also includes investments across the province, such as $2.1 million for 150 additional addiction treatment spaces, expansion of public Take Home Naloxone Kit Program to more than 85 communities and $1 million to the Drug Task Force for various research and community projects.
Planning is currently underway to implement additional mobile harm reduction services, including three new community wellness buses that will travel to communities in south, central and northern Saskatchewan in the near future.
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