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Guelph harm reduction van facing funding shortfall

A mobile health and harm reduction service is asking for money from Guelph City Council to help cover a funding shortfall.

The Guelph-Wellington Community Health Van provides services including naloxone distribution, needle exchange, nursing care, immunizations and mental health crisis support in seven rural Wellington County communities and across the City of Guelph. It’s operated by the Sanguen Health Centre and also connects people to shelters and other health and social service providers.

“The goal of our health van is to improve the delivery of health and harm reduction services to people in urban areas who have traditionally been marginalized due to their drug use, mental health, their poverty or HIV and Hepatitis C status and face barriers to accessing traditional supports,” Lindsay Sprague, Sanguen director of community programs, told council at Wednesday night’s meeting.

The van is currently funded through Health Canada but that money runs out in March.

“We are currently facing a funding shortfall of $90,000 for 2024,” Sprague said.

While the City of Guelph has already provided an $11,000 grant for 2024, Sanguen is hoping the city will consider allocating additional money in the upcoming budget to help make up the shortfall.

Sprague said harm reduction services like the ones the van provides are more important than ever given the increasing number of people losing their lives to drug poisoning.

According to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH), there were 24 drug-related deaths reported between Jan. 1 and Sept. 27 in Guelph this year.

“Harm reduction helps people stay alive long enough to make choices around their health and wellness,” Sprague said.

No funding decisions were made on Wednesday night. Council budget discussions will continue on Nov. 29. Top Stories

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