B.C. ministry announces new addictions treatment, recovery beds coming

The additional beds will increase access to addictions treatment and recovery bed-based services

West Kootenay members of REDUN joined groups across the province by putting up a Christmas tree in downtown Trail in December, to memorialize family and friends lost to overdose/substance use. Photo: Submitted

West Kootenay members of REDUN joined groups across the province by putting up a Christmas tree in downtown Trail in December, to memorialize family and friends lost to overdose/substance use. Photo: Submitted

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions announced on Tuesday that people struggling with substance-use challenges in B.C. will have additional treatment and recovery options as more than 100 new publicly funded beds will soon become available around the province.

“To help people get the addictions care they need, we’re providing more publicly funded treatment and recovery beds,” Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said Feb. 9.

“We are thrilled that the funding will create more than 100 new public beds in communities across B.C., even more than we anticipated when we announced 50 to 70 beds last summer. There’s more to do, but we are working hard to build up a strong system of addictions and mental health care.”

Of the more than 100 beds destined for 14 organizations across the province, there will be new spaces in existing treatment and recovery organizations.

The province says the remaining beds will be converted from private-pay beds to fully funded public ones for people who cannot afford private-pay rates and to help cut wait times for public treatment.

Funding was allocated in two streams to residential treatment services and supportive recovery services.

“In the northwest, we have too few resources for long-term recovery for men in active addiction and homelessness – dads, fathers, husbands, needing a helping hand up,” said Willy Beaudry, executive director, 333 Recovery Homes Society in Prince Rupert. “This grant is the best news for our society and region and will assist greatly in getting our guys back into the community, with families, into employment and in a lot of cases, their own places.”

The additional beds will increase access to addictions treatment and recovery bed-based services in every health authority by bringing beds into the public system and will help to address long-standing service gaps for Indigenous peoples, women, rural and remote communities, and people transitioning from corrections.

The province says that service need, including both rural and remote communities, was also prioritized.

Treatment and recovery beds are a key part of the substance-use continuum of care. They provide safe living environments where people can focus on their recovery journey.

An average of five people die of overdose every day in B.C., most as a result of using alone.

The Kootenay Boundary region had seen 16 suspected drug toxicity deaths by the end of last year, 11 of those attributed to fentanyl.

That number neared the highest number of overdose deaths recorded in the Kootenay Boundary since 2017. That year, 17 people died of overdose.

Provincially, overdose claimed the lives of 1,548 British Columbians by mid-December 2020. (updated statistics are not yet available)

In 2020, 70 per cent of those dying were aged 30 to 59. Males accounted for 81 per cent of those deaths.

“This investment is such an important step toward a vision where more substance-use treatment and recovery supports are available at the right time for more people,” said Jonny Morris, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, B.C. Division.

“Following a rigorous and involved adjudication process, it is exciting to see such a strong pool of grantees announced today, and we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, our partners and the grantees during the coming months.”