Urban Indigenous Opioid Task Force

The Urban Indigenous Opioid Task Force (UIOTF) is a coordinated response team of stakeholders who collaborate to share information and develop strategies for navigating the opioid crisis in Metro Vancouver.  UIOTF was created in response to BC’s opioid overdose public health emergency announced in April, 2016. Over 1,400 people died in 2017 alone from overdose, making this the leading cause of unnatural death. Many services have been overwhelmed in meeting the high demands this crisis has caused.  These providers have an opportunity to share on successful initiatives and identify challenges. This allows members to learn from one another, coordinate efforts, and network. UIOTF supports community engagement and also relieves the pressure of responding to the crisis in isolation.

UIOTF includes over 150 representatives from all levels of response including those with lived experience, service providers, and municipal and provincial health authorities. They collectively serve the 70,000 urban Indigenous people living in the Metro Vancouver area.

Meetings are held approximately every six weeks with an average of 40 participants.  Since it’s operation in June 2017, UIOTF has developed a common vision and goals in the Shared Vision Workshop.  


It is recommended UIOTF adopt a community-based, lifespan approach to support families and address core issues.  The target demographic includes anyone using substances containing opioids. These uses may be for medical, recreational, spiritual, and/or maintenance purposes.  The scope of UIOTF begins when individuals using these substances access health and community services.


The UIOTF’s top priorities are to reduce overdose deaths, increase access to immediate care, and facilitate smooth transition into a long-term support network by collaboratively sharing information amongst members to create and improve opioid response strategies.


Key Recommendations

  • Support integrated care, Indigenous wellness centres & wrap around services approach to promote efficient delivery of services
  • Remove jurisdictional barriers between health authorities
  • Increase access and reduce waitlists for existing services
  • Support Culture as Treatment interventions and cultural humility practices
    • Indigenous cultural wellness has shown to be successful for the prevention and treatment of substance use issues

* Learn more about UIOTF in our Terms of Reference

Please contact us at projects@mvaec.ca if you would like to become involved in UIOTF and receive updates on the group’s progress.  

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