Released on June 23, 2022
The North Battleford area is now home to Saskatchewan's fourth mobile harm reduction van that will transport safer supplies to the community to save lives and help reduce the spread of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections.
"Our government is committed to enhancing access to these much-needed harm reduction services and supplies by meeting people where they are at," Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley said. "Harm reduction vans are already making a difference on the streets of Saskatoon, Regina and Yorkton. These mobile vans provide an opportunity to build trust with community members and will bring lifesaving services to individuals while also engaging with them on pathways toward long-term treatment and recovery."
Basic health care, such as, treating wounds and infections, and HIV testing, is also provided by the health care workers operating the van. The North Battleford van will employ two staff and operate on evenings and weekends; providing necessary supports during hours when public health locations are closed. The van will generally operate three days a week, including evenings and weekends. Dates and times vary according to staff rotation schedules.
"These mobile services are a critical component in the harm reduction response," Highways Minister and Battlefords MLA Jeremy Cockrill said. "Providing mobile harm reduction services is an important step as our government works to enhance addiction and overdose prevention supports for residents of our city and across the province."
Evidence shows that harm reduction programs minimize the harmful effects for individuals, families and communities. Providing clients with return and disposal options, reduce discarded needles in the community and reduce the incidence of needle-stick injuries.
"Outreach services like harm reduction vans allow many individuals who do not have access to mainstream health services the opportunity to be connected to care and treatment options," Saskatchewan Health Authority Primary Health Care NWS Executive Director Jessica Campbell said. "Increasing access to safer supplies and medically factual information can lead to a reduced chance of infection, disease transmission and overdose."
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.
Planning is currently underway to implement an additional mobile harm reduction services van in Prince Albert in 2022 as well as three new community wellness buses that will travel to communities in south, central and northern Saskatchewan in spring of 2023.
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