New standards outline payment amounts to use when engaging people with substance use experience
Submitted by Jason Curran, Knowledge Translation Lead, BCCDC
For Charlene Burmeister, a peer leader with Quesnel, B.C.’s Opening Doors to Harm Reduction project, people with lived experience, or peers, are capable of providing expertise and knowledge, but that expertise necessitates appropriate payment.
“Knowledge has value and valuable insight deserves recognition and compensation,” said Burmeister.
The BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC) new Peer Payment Standards help outline payment amounts and methods to use when engaging peers across the province. Although intended for use internally by the BCCDC, these standards are also available for consideration by other community-based and public sector health care organizations to inform equitable peer payment. People who have lived experience with drug use, either past or present, are often consulted as experts and use their lived experience to inform effective health service programming and delivery to reduce health inequities and achieve social justice.
“We sought to ensure that our best practice recommendations are actioned. This document provides practical guidance and suggestions on ways to pay peers in the way that they want to be paid,” says report co-author, Annelies Becu. Together with Lauren Allan, an operations coordinator at the BCCDC, the authors engaged more than 90 stakeholders across all five regional health authorities in B.C. and developed recommendations based on those findings.
Among the recommendations, the new standards suggest:
- Paying cash unless another method of payment is specifically requested.
- Being upfront about payment. Discuss payment amounts for short-term peer engagements, other expenses that are covered, and the best time to pay.
- Providing options on when and how peers would like to receive their honorarium.
- Considering other out-of-pocket expenses, such as transportation, accommodation, meal costs, travel time and child care.
- Discussing implications for income and/or disability assistance.
The focus of these standards is on short-term peer engagements, such as attending meetings as an expert or advising on policy documents that are not classified as employment relationships. The BCCDC recommends employing peers full-time or for longer-term contract engagements when possible.
To read and download the BCCDC Peer Payment Standards, as well as the BCCDC’s other documents related to peer engagement, click the resources tab on our Peer Engagement & Evaluation page.
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