COLUMBUS – Select Ohio communities in which workers have been impacted by the pervasive opioid crisis may receive financial assistance through federal grants now available.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta Tuesdayannounced a new National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Demonstration Grant pilot program to help communities fight the opioid crisis. The U.S. Department of Labor will initially fund seven to 10 pilot programs with awards totaling $21 million. Acosta made the announcement during a visit to the Maryhaven Stabilization Center in Columbus.
The grants may be used to help provide new skills to workers, including new entrants to the workforce, who have been or are being impacted by the opioid crisis. Additionally, funds may be used for workforce development in professions that address or prevent problems related to opioids in American communities, such as addiction treatment service providers, pain management and therapy service providers, and mental health treatment providers.
“The tragedies of opioid misuse and abuse devastate families and communities, and keep too many Americans out of the workforce,” Acosta said. “President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency, committing the full resources of his Administration to helping Americans impacted by the crisis. The importance of a job and work in reducing opioid abuse cannot be overstated. The Department of Labor’s grant pilot program will focus on returning individuals impacted by opioids to the workplace.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Time-Use Survey found that 44 percent of prime-age men not in the labor force acknowledged taking pain medication the previous day. Recent studies suggest that up to 20 percent of the steady decline in labor force participation among prime-age men aged 25-54 may be attributed to opioid use.
The announcement followed a roundtable discussion among job creators, state and local government officials, and industry group leaders about ideas and strategies to get more Americans back to work after opioid misuse or abuse. The discussion took place at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Columbus is one of the areas hardest hit by the opioid crisis.
“Our discussion was especially poignant. Every day, 11 people in Ohio die from complications of opioids,” Acosta said. “It is clear that we stand a much better chance of defeating the opioid crisis by working together.
“I want to express my sincere thanks for everyone’s participation today. I specifically want to thank U.S. Senator Rob Portman, who was among the very first people to sound the alarm about opioids, and who continues to be a leading voice for Ohioans and all Americans on this issue.”
“President Trump and his Administration are committed to helping Americans recover, rebuild and get back to work. We are committed to helping Columbus, and every state, city and town across the country overcome and heal from this epidemic.”