The provincial government says more addictions treatment and recovery services will soon be coming to Northern B.C.
Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson says they are part of a $132-million funding package over the next three years.
For the Northern Health region, that includes a new sobering and assessment centre in Prince George, as well as expanded adult addictions day treatment services and new peer-support initiatives to support ongoing aftercare in various communities in the north.
“Our government wants people in British Columbia to have access to seamless, integrated health care to help them navigate the substance use challenges that they face,” Malcolmson said during an announcement Wednesday. “We want that care to be available when and where they need it, no matter who they are, no matter where they live, and no matter how much money they make.”
In total, Malcolmson says the funding will create more than 65 new or enhanced services throughout the province, add more than 130 full-time staff, and open an estimated 195 new substance-use treatment beds for adults.
Across Northern B.C., there have been 77 illicit drug overdose deaths this year, including 36 in the Northern Interior, 23 in the Northwest, and 18 in the Northeast.
According to the province, sobering and assessment beds provide a safe place for people under the influence in the short term, for less than 24 hours. The province says where possible, people are then connected to other health care services, such as opioid substitution therapy, withdrawal management, group therapy, and one-on-one counselling.
"This funding will strengthen the continuity of care and reduce gaps for those in need,” Northern Health CEO Cathy Ulrich said in a statement. “We appreciate the collaborative approach being taken to better respond to people experiencing mental-health or substance-use challenges, and look forward to working with all our partners to create timely connections to appropriate services."
Malcomson says her ministry will be working with health authorities and others to finalize details on how the new beds and services will be implemented over the coming months.
“I look forward to visiting all regions of our province as each of these services roll out with our determination to make lives better for people.” Malcolmson said.
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