Treatment Centre and detox facility coming to Fort St. John - BC Addictions Minister hints
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. -- Northern B.C. is struggling with two pandemics simultaneously.
With COVID-19 continuing to take its toll on the Peace Region, the area also has the second-highest rate of overdose deaths in the province.
“We are seeing people that have overdosed almost every day,” says Lisa Jewell, FSJ Women’s Resource Society.
In fact, more people are dying in B.C. from toxic drug use every day, than from COVID-19.
Yet, Fort St. John barely has any resources for those struggling with addiction.
That's something Miranda Vecchio, who runs a treatment centre in the lower mainland, says needs to change.
“A lot of people are overdosing and dying, men and women, but a lot of people overdose and live and we need to have facilities available, that will provide a strong foundation for long-term success in treatment,” says Vecchio, Executive Director of Charlford House.
For the Peace Region to get life-saving treatment facilities, the province needs to help.
“Back in 2017, when the Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction was created, we all assumed that this would be big steps forward on dealing with this crisis. But to our dismay, quite frankly, the opposite has happened. We've seen the numbers, unfortunately, go through the roof,” says Dan Davies, MLA for Peace-River-North.
However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The Minister of Mental Health and Addictions confirmed to CJDC-TV News, that a new treatment facility, a detox centre and more healthcare workers to staff them are on the way.
Minister, Sheila Malcolmson, says an announcement will be made in the next few weeks.
"The monthly reminder of the loss of life just pushes us further and makes us work harder to build those symptoms of support up there," says Malcolmson.
She wouldn't confirm Fort St. John is on the list, but she did say she will be in our City at the beginning of November.
Malcolmson also says she doesn't want to pre-empt her own announcement with Northern Health, adding she is ‘keeping an eye’ on the City.
“It's our responsibility as a government to come there and partnership with them, and fund expansion of those services,” says Malcolmson.
According to the minister, the previous government was so focused on the liquid natural gas pipeline, they forgot about healthcare services.
The mayor of Fort St. John says she’s happy the north is finally being recognized.
“The City of Fort St. John council has been advocating for a long time for increased mental health and addiction support in the region. So any kind of acknowledgement that’s needed, and movement towards that additional support would be very welcomed, ” says Lori Ackerman.
“The north deserves more and is going to be getting more,” says Malcolmson.
Malcolmson says the solution will not be a one-size-fits-all model. It will be tailored to the needs of people suffering in the Peace Region.
However, until then, all those people who are suffering can do is wait.
“It’s heartbreaking, it’s so sad to see people coming in and talking about their loved ones that have recently passed,“ says Jewell.