$1.4M provided to improve training of Saskatchewan caregivers treating substance abuse

Prairie Harm Reduction, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and Saskatchewan Association for Safe Workplaces and Health (SASWH) have partnered to address stigma, discrimination, and racism against those seeking help with substance use.

“The hope of this and the goal of this is to equip front-line service providers of people who work with people who use substances with the tools and resources that they need to be able to offer the best programs that they possibly can and engage people that use substances in a better way in our community,” said Kayla DeMong, executive director of Prairie Harm Reduction in Saskatoon.

After receiving a total of $1.4 million in federal funding, they are launching a five-year project to develop new resources and training for care providers and front-line workers, at no additional costs to them.

“Substance abuse is something that we are seeing more and more,” said Gerry Youzwa, director of training solutions at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. “Providing culturally safe and stigma-free support services is a really important component of keeping everyone safe.”

Demong said each partner will provide one staff position towards the project, as well as a harm reduction educator to work with the team to develop and create the curriculum and courses.

The tools will be free online and accessible for health care, social and human services, as well as community organizations.

The new resources will be aimed towards students pursuing training in these professions, as well as already practicing employees.

“Our goal will be to launch in spring of 2024 with an aim to train up to 600 students entering front-line occupations, as well as train over 300 individual front-line workers,” Youzwa said.

The project began in April and is currently in the research stage of development.

“We are getting ready to gear up to do focus groups in the new year across the province — looking at what each area of the province is needing, what resources they are lacking, what issues they are seeing and so forth,” said DeMong.

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