WATCH: More substance, mental health services on the way

How latest provincial investment will help people in the Okanagan

  • The extra space will help address the toxic drug death crisis in B.C.
  • The money should help cut the time someone needs to wait to access specialized treatment

The provincial government has announced new treatment and recovery services in Kelowna in response to the rising need caused by the toxic drug supply.

The Bridge Youth and Family Services Society will work with Interior Health to open 22 new adult substance-use beds, 13 of which will be dedicated to withdrawal management, and nine for transition and stabilization care. Currently, there are eight withdrawal management beds and six for transition and stabilization care across two locations.

Last week, the province addressed the tragic number of deaths from toxic drugs, reporting over 6,000 in the last four years.

The new investments are part of last year’s historic $500 million investment by the province to continue building a comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care.

“All these new beds are a crucial part of our comprehensive response to the toxic drug crisis, and a vital building block in the system of mental health and addictions care that we are building across British Columbia,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

In addition, B.C. is investing $164 million through Budget 2022 to build complex-care housing in the province to serve up to 500 vulnerable people. This will include to plan for a complex-care project in Kelowna.

Malcolmson said that for a long time, treatment and recovery systems in the province were not available, especially for those with mental health issues and substance use challenges.

“These are the people who needed the highest support but sadly have fallen through the cracks of our system,” she said. “Our commitment as a government is that when people need and are ready to take that step towards recovery, that they are met with care and the systems are ready to receive them.”

Patrick Spinks, Board President at The Bridge, said this investment will help provide the necessary services in the community meaning wait times will be reduced, and doubling capacity to provide withdrawal management services.

“We’re now in a position where we can provide continuity of care to which we always aspired to do for individuals regardless of where they are in their recovery journey,” he said.

There are 3,201 publicly funded community substance-use beds throughout the province, including 3,096 adult beds and 142 youth beds.

The new beds in Kelowna will be in place by the summer.

Published 2022-03-15 by Connor Chan

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