Small rally focuses on saving addiction treatment beds
Posted: February 29, 2020
(February 28, 2020)
By: Chris Dawson, BayToday
A small crowd gathered in front of Vic Fedeli’s constituency office to continue to press the government to keep its residential addiction treatment program open.
“We are here today asking Vic Fedeli to intervene and stop the closure of the 29 residential addiction treatment beds that are administered by the North Bay Regional Health Centre and we are extremely concerned about the closure of those beds because there is a waitlist for the program and there is a waitlist for the only other program in the community,” said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director, Ontario Health Coalition.
“It would mean that people would have to travel and all of the residential addiction treatment programs that are anywhere nearby, which the nearest is an hour and a half away, are also full and have waitlists so there really is nowhere for these people to go.”
However, since that announcement, the lay off notices for 30 positions at the North Bay Regional Hospital have been cancelled in mid-February according to the president of the hospital Paul Henrich.
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli says he is pleased to know that the plan for community withdrawal management services is moving forward.
“We can ensure those who need mental health and addictions services in our community can access them, as was prioritized by the mayor’s roundtable,” said Fedeli in a statement.
“We expect all our health care professionals to work together in the best interests of clients in need. Our government is delivering real action by investing a historic $3.8 billion over the next 10 years to build a comprehensive, integrated and connected mental health and addictions system.”
Louis Rodrigues, the First VP of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions attended the small rally. He’s pleased to see the CUPE jobs being saved but he still feels that taking away those 29 beds is a major concern.
“It was good news that the jobs were protected, the people are needed in the hospital and that is a good thing for us but it does not lessen the problem that we have here,” he said.
“The crisis of not having enough beds for the people that probably need it the most, people with addictions.”
Mehra does not believe the new withdrawal management program can replace the 29 addiction treatment program beds.
“It has gaps in terms of the community supports and withdrawal management and it has gaps at the very acute end in terms of the more acute intensive hospital care – the more complex hospital care,” she said.
“This plan does not solve those problems, however, the increase in the withdrawal management in the community is great, that’s a good thing. The replacement of the closed crisis beds is great, that’s a good thing. The closure of the residential treatment beds we think is a dangerous and risky thing for which there has been no good answer and which we are asking Vic Fedeli to reverse.”
Mehra says they are organizing another public rally to support the cause in early March.