PAN Letter to Parliamentary Secretary Niki Sharma

April 8, 2022

Niki Sharma, MLA
Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development and Non-Profits
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC
V8V 1X4

Sent via email: [email protected]


Dear Parliamentary Secretary Sharma:

On behalf of PAN, I write to thank and congratulate you on the creation of the historic $30 million
Non-Profit Recovery and Resiliency Fund. Taken in combination with funding from the Vancouver
Foundation, this will provide a significant boost to BC’s non-profit sector, which has been significantly
impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic. As a network agency with over 40 community-based members
working across BC on HIV, hepatitis C, harm reduction and related issues, PAN welcomes this

At the same time, we would like to take the opportunity to highlight BC’s other concurrent health
emergency, the overdose crisis, a crisis which has intensified and been made worse by COVID 19. In
2021 alone, a total of 2,224 British Columbians died, a 26% increase from the previous year, and the
highest number ever. We therefore urge the province to dedicate some of the Recovery and
Resiliency Fund to target community-based organizations (CBOs) including those staffed and led by
people who use drugs and peers who are working on the front lines of the drug poisoning crisis.

PAN member and allied organizations excel at providing relational care and meeting people where
they are at, but against the backdrop of the COVID-overdose syndemic many are struggling to
respond to the increasing demand for supports for people who use substances. Part of this is a
resourcing issue on a systems level, as CBOs and peer run organizations in the health sector do not
have access to core funding. Funding provided by the health authorities does not build on the
strengths of CBOs but treats non-profits as if they were a business. Contracts are often short-term in
duration and subject to regular re-procurement, which limits the ability to support long-term and
sustained responses.

The other key challenge confronting such organizations is with regards to human resources. The
cumulative impacts of the grief and loss experienced by those working on the front lines, particularly
peer workers, is having a devastating impact on the work force. Many people who have dedicated
themselves to this work are leaving or have themselves been lost to overdose.

We believe CBOs and peer run organizations are an under-utilized resource, and with more than 6.5
British Columbians dying every day from drug poisoning there is an urgent need to remove barriers to
an effective response. The pressures being experienced by these organizations has stretched them
paper thin and speaks to the need for the supports as laid out in the new Fund.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these matters further, and to
support you and the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction in ensuring that the
Recovery and Resiliency Fund is doing as much as possible to support non-profits providing life-saving
harm reduction services across BC.


Yours sincerely,
J. Evin Jones
Executive Director

CC. Honourable Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction
Honourable Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
Honourable Adrian Dix, Minister of Health