Tailgate Toolkit Project addresses overdose crisis

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The Tailgate Toolkit Project launched by the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) aims to address the ongoing overdose crisis on Vancouver Island.

“Workers in construction, the trades, and transportation have been hit particularly hard by this crisis,” says Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “We want people to feel comfortable talking about mental health and substance use.  This project will go a long way to reducing the stigma that still stops people from reaching out for the help they need and deserve.”

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is investing nearly a quarter million dollars with Island Health into the Tailgate Toolkit Project which is an innovative new harm-reduction strategy, targeted to reach those who primarily work in the trades. The BC Coroners Service reported in 2018 that of those who lost their lives, 81 per cent were men, 44 per cent of people who died of overdose were employed, and more than half worked in trades or transport.

“The ongoing overdose crisis cannot be overshadowed by the COVID pandemic,” states Rory Kulmala, CEO of the Vancouver Island Construction Association.  “We are eager to work with Island Heath and all our various stakeholders to develop an innovative harm-reduction strategy to assist at-risk workers from a variety of industries.”

The Tailgate Toolkit Project will consist of a three-phased approach, stakeholder engagement, development and implementation of training curriculum, and refinement of training based on feedback.

Phase one of The Tailgate Toolkit Project is underway. VICA will be holding focus groups for supervisors, managers, owners, union reps, and educators in construction to share their ideas and experiences of how drug use effects construction. VICA will also be holding confidential one-on-one interviews with anyone who has worked in construction within the last five years and uses or has used drugs. The interviews will be used to develop a training curriculum and resources for employers and employees, and will guide recommendations to reduce drug harms in the trades sector.

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