December 3, 2018 2:37 pm
Updated: December 3, 2018 2:45 pm

Saskatoon Tribal Council improving harm reduction services

Saskatoon Tribal Council’s harm reduction program is getting a boost from a funding agreement to help reduce the spread of blood-borne infections.

Alexa MacLean / Global News
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A multi-year funding agreement will help a harm reduction program led by the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) improve its services for Indigenous people in and around the city.

Provincial government officials said Monday the these programs provide education, supplies, and supports to people who use drugs, reducing the spread of blood-borne infections, and other health-related harms.

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STC said it will be able to establish a number of services including street outreach, client navigators, peer engagement, community needle pick up, and transportation for clients.

The organization said it is also planning to recruit a health centre director, an immunization/administrative co-ordinator, two outreach workers, casual staff for the needle exchange, and elder services.

“We look forward to ensuring preventative harm reduction measures that are delivered in a culturally safe and respectful manner,” STC Chief Mark Arcand said in a press release.

“We and our partners agree that a collaborative approach is necessary if we are to reduce the rates of HIV and hepatitis C in Saskatchewan. Together we can and will affect real change which enriches people’s quality of life.”

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Minister of Indigenous Services Canada Jane Philpott said 30 First Nation communities in Saskatchewan are currently offering harm reduction services.

“We know that First Nations-led and delivered programming and services can have the biggest impact on improving health outcomes for Indigenous peoples,” Philpott said in a press release.

“This new funding agreement will allow for expanded access to more First Nations people in Saskatoon and surrounding communities, and will support a full range of harm reduction and HIV/AIDS care services.”

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Indigenous Services Canada and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health will each contribute $825,000 between October 2018 and April 2024 to STC’s program. STC will provide in-kind contributions of $50,000 for 2018-19 and $100,000 annually to March 2024.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority is also providing $180,000 this fiscal year toward STC’s program.

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