VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The province will invest $36 million over the next three years to double the number of treatment beds for youth struggling with addictions.
The 123 new beds, for those aged 12 to 24, are for substance-use treatment and withdrawal management, according to a release from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions on Thursday.
“Today’s announcement impacts a population that has been uniquely affected by both COVID-19 and substance-use issues: our province’s youth. Access to treatment beds is a very important part of a larger system of care for our youth,” says Dr. Kathleen Ross, president, Doctors of B.C.
The 123 new beds announced today adds to 20 recently announced in Chillwack.
Last month the province pulled proposed legislation – Bill 22
would have allowed youth to be involuntary hospitalized after an overdose#bcpoli #covid19 @news1130 #overdose
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) August 13, 2020
“The near doubling of treatment beds will help youth who have taken many courageous steps to seek help and cannot afford to face long waitlists or closed doors.”
Locations for the new beds will be determined in consultation with regional health authorities, with all in place by 2023. The first ones are expected to be in place by the end of the fiscal year.
Colin Tessier, with the Threshold Housing Society, said the new beds are vital.
“We are in a crisis today with the poisoning of the drug supply. We are losing far too many people, far too many youth, and we need action on investments to curb that tide,” he added.
“There is hope in investing in young people, and in youth. By directing resources to youth in our community, it provides an opportunity to change the life trajectory of someone who is looking down a very dark path.”
Judy Darcy, minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said the new beds are the single largest increase in youth treatment beds ever in B.C.
“For too long, young people and their families have faced long waits for treatment and a fragmented mental health and addictions system. Especially in these challenging times, young people shouldn’t have to wait for care. There’s much more to do, and we’re going to keep building a full continuum of mental health and addictions care for everyone in B.C.”
Q – when will these new 123 beds be operational, how long will they reduce the wait?@DarcyJudy think it will make significant difference. When? Health authorities working at break neck pace. #bcpoli #covid19 @news1130 #overdose
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) August 13, 2020
The province recently opened Traverse, a new 20-bed youth treatment centre in Chilliwack.
With the new beds, the province has implemented 143 for youth since 2017, for a total of 247 throughout B.C.
“This investment in new youth-focused treatment beds will help to change the life trajectory of many at-risk youth in British Columbia,” says Colin Tessier, executive director, Threshold Housing Society.
“This is an area of desperate need in our province and will help to fill a gap in the continuum of care that will lead to better outcomes for young people, their families and our communities. When a young person is ready to pursue treatment options, it can be a fleeting and fragile window of time whereby quick action and immediate access to services makes all the difference. These new beds will help to reduce long waitlists for treatment and allow many more youth to quickly reduce harm and vulnerability while beginning to access healing in their lives.”
The new beds come as the province recently pulled legislation aimed at youth with addictions. It allowed youth to be held for up to a week in a hospital after an overdose and was criticized for lacking consultation and being too extreme.
The beds also come as B.C. set a record for drug overdose deaths in June for the second straight month. The BC Coroners Service reported 175 deaths in June related to illicit substances, surpassing the previous high of 171 in May.
It was the fourth consecutive month with more than 100 illicit drug toxicity deaths, many linked to opioids.