Goldcorp has a strong culture of mentoring employees and leading by example, and provides time, resources and tools to set others up for success. Empowering Others is one of our core values. So when we see an opportunity in our local community to help others empower themselves – or to help people acquire the skills to help others – it’s a natural fit for our company. It’s especially poignant when those we aim to empower are held back by mental health issues or substance abuse.
While seemingly a modern-day affliction, drug addiction has been prevalent in British Columbia since the turn of the 20th Century. Opium was used widely, in particular by immigrant workers. Although it was addictive, it was not usually fatal. Through the decades since, more potent versions have emerged, culminating in the recent influx of synthetic opiates — fentanyl and carfentanil — thousands of times more powerful and many times more deadly than opium.
Understanding the impacts of these dangerous new and existing drugs requires innovative health research and care. With an intent to Empower Others, Goldcorp became a catalyst for change in 2012 and partnered with St. Paul’s Hospital, an acute care, teaching and research hospital in Vancouver, to establish Canada’s only addiction medicine training program west of Ontario. The BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) Addiction Medicine Fellowship was established with a $3 million donation by Goldcorp, and is a partnership between the BCCSU, St. Paul’s Foundation, St. Paul’s Hospital, the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and the Division of AIDS at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
Dr. Evan Wood, Director of BCCSU at St. Paul’s Hospital, said, “Untreated addiction has been a longstanding problem in British Columbia and we need greater recognition of substance use as a health issue. Evidence-based prevention and treatment services can help turn this situation around but it requires the integration of research and educational efforts.”
The Fellowship addresses a critical lack of skilled addiction medicine specialists in BC by providing training to 20 Fellows over a five year period, in nursing and social work streams. The program is a new multidisciplinary Fellowship that strives for excellence in clinical training, scholarship, research, and advocacy and includes specialty training in inpatient and outpatient addiction management, as well as related concurrent disorders training. In early 2017, the Government of BC provided additional funding for the BCCSU, enabling the centre to continue its vital work in education and training, research and evaluation, and clinical care guidance related to problematic substance use.
Mental health and substance abuse and are often closely associated, and Goldcorp has also committed to find lasting solutions for these complex issues in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside by supporting InnerChange, a non-profit society providing leadership, funding and advocacy to drive innovation to improve the health outcomes of British Columbians suffering from addictions and related mental health challenges. In Ontario, Goldcorp supports CAMH (the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health), Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform lives and eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness and addiction.
The opium dens of a bygone era may have disappeared but the challenge for today’s healthcare professionals providing support for people, care-givers and families struggling with the difficulties of mental health and substance abuse continues to grow. With Goldcorp empowering others in these frontline organizations, we are working towards a future where mental health and addiction can be better understood and supported by skilled specialists.