Increased access to treatment and recovery services will help more people living with addictions during two public health emergencies – the overdose crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Province is investing $16 million to support new treatment and recovery beds and to support existing services that have been challenged by COVID-19.
“British Columbians are facing two public health emergencies and pressures from COVID-19 have tragically resulted in more lives lost to overdose,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “We are working at full speed to stem the tide of these dual crises and connect more people to the treatment and recovery services they need. These new beds will be another step toward building the comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care that British Columbians deserve.”
Of the overall investment, $13.5 million in grant funding will increase the number of treatment and recovery beds throughout the province for people struggling with substance use challenges. Because the cost per bed differs based on its location and type of services provided, this funding is estimated to add 50 to 70 new publicly funded beds to help more people over the next three years.
Funding will be directed through the Canadian Mental Health Association to deliver community grants – in consultation with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and health authorities – and will prioritize underserved communities. Applications will open in August 2020 for eligible licensed and registered not-for-profit and private service providers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the existing challenges and risks for those living with mental health and substance use problems,” said Jonny Morris, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division. “We welcome the opportunity to support the substance use treatment and recovery sector with more services and supports. This investment is an important step in strengthening community-based care and helping more people get the right care at the right time.”
Treatment and recovery beds are an important part of the substance use continuum of care available for people in British Columbia. They provide safe living environments where people can focus on their recovery journey. Over the past decade, investments in bed-based care did not keep up with demand, resulting in long waitlists and lack of service in rural and remote communities.
Another $2.5 million will support operators of existing bed-based treatment and recovery services that have been challenged by COVID-19. These services have continued throughout the pandemic, but COVID-19 has stretched operating budgets to the limit. This funding will help maintain quality of care and make sure critical services continue to be available when people need them.
“The BC Addiction Recovery Association (BCARA) applauds the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions on this significant announcement today. In the midst of two health crises, it is imperative that a range of interventions, including treatment and recovery, be available to those suffering from addiction,” said Brenda Plant, chair, BCARA. “Financial supports for the providers that have continued to operate during the pandemic will ensure that these essential services can continue uninterrupted. Increasing the number of recovery beds in B.C. will help our most vulnerable citizens access treatment and recovery more quickly, reduce wait times and ultimately, save lives.”
Improving treatment and recovery services is an integral part of A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in British Columbia. Implementing A Pathway to Hope is a shared priority with the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
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