People in all 10 of B.C.’s correctional facilities will soon have a team of support workers available to help transition them back into society when they are released.
The province announced Monday (Oct. 3) it is expanding its community transition teams from the five facilities where they have operated since 2019 to all 10 of B.C.’s prisons. The amount of time people can access supports is also being lengthened from 30 to 90 days.
Mental health and addictions minister Sheila Malcolmson said the days and weeks following someone’s release “are crucial.”
“Starting over can be overwhelming and triggering,” she said.
She added that those post-release days also heighten a person’s risk to the toxic drug supply, when people who use substances are 12 times more likely to fatally overdose.
The transition teams exist to provide substance use treatment, as well as mental health support, medication-assisted treatment and motivational interviewing. They include a group of social workers, nurses, peer support workers and Indigenous patient navigators.
The province says since 2019 the five teams already in place have helped 1,500 people released from Surrey Pretrial Services Centre, Prince George Regional Correctional Centre, Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, Nanaimo Correctional Centre or Fraser Regional Correctional Centre.
The new teams will assist people leaving the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, Ford Mountain Correctional Centre, North Fraser Pretrial Centre, Okanagan Correctional Centre and Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre.
They are expected to all be up and running by the end of October.