More Drug-Poisoning Prevention Services For Construction Workers

January 14, 2022

BRITISH COLUMBIA – People working in the construction industry will benefit from life-saving harm-reduction training in the workplace, substance-use support groups and information on local community resources thanks to new provincial funding.

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 in BC’s construction industry. The project will 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. The Province is investing $1 million through the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA) and the Community Action Initiative (CAI) to support this expansion.

“We’re pleased to help with the provincial expansion of the Vancouver Island Construction Association’s Tailgate Toolkit Project to support people working in construction and trades. We know that substance use is present in all industries and in all communities across B.C., and that VICA has done an incredible job reaching this community to stop preventable overdose deaths. This funding will allow for much-needed provincial expansion so that more employers have the tools and resources they need to offer meaningful mental-health and substance-use supports to their teams,” said Emily Wagner, acting executive director of CAI.

The expanded toolkit will allow workplaces to educate staff about substance use to help prevent toxic drug deaths, as well as harm-reduction and recovery strategies and employee resources. Workers with substance-use challenges will also have access to weekly support groups facilitated by front-line workers with lived experience of substance use and working in the construction industry.

The toolkit will include training for managers and responders to recognize and provide support for people with substance-use and mental-health challenges, including mental-health first aid, naloxone training, pain management and more. As part of this project, construction associations throughout British Columbia, including the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA), the Southern Interior Construction Association (SICA) and the Northern Regional Construction Association (NRCA), will host dedicated harm-reduction co-ordinators. They will also provide access to print and digital resources developed in consultation with regional health authorities to highlight the harm-reduction and recovery services available to workers within and beyond their benefit packages.

“We are eager to continue the work that we have been piloting over the past year and would like to thank the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions for entrusting the Vancouver Island Construction Association with this funding,” said Rory Kulmala, chief executive officer, Vancouver Island Construction Association. “Through the support of our membership and our industry partners, we have been able to develop a truly grassroots initiative specifically designed for our workers including access to resources and support, which they may not have realized were available to them.”

The toolkit has been developed in consultation with people with lived and living experience to ensure it is useful and relevant to people in the construction industry.

According to the BC Coroners’ Service, between January and October 2021, 79 per cent of those who died from suspected illicit drug toxicity were men and according to the 2020 Labour Force Survey, 86 per cent of the construction workforce is male.




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