Interior Health ends contract with Okanagan detox centre to take over its addiction services

·2 min read
Founded in 1975, the Pathways Addictions Resource Centre in Penticton, B.C. is facing financial uncertainty after Interior Health decided to take over addictions services across South Okanagan after June 1.  (Pathways Addictions Resource Centre/Facebook - image credit)
Founded in 1975, the Pathways Addictions Resource Centre in Penticton, B.C. is facing financial uncertainty after Interior Health decided to take over addictions services across South Okanagan after June 1. (Pathways Addictions Resource Centre/Facebook - image credit)

A well-established detox centre in Penticton, B.C., is now in limbo after the Interior Health authority decided to take over substance use counselling services itself.

Founded in 1975, the Pathways Addictions Resource Centre wrote in a statement Tuesday that after May 31, the health authority will take over all addictions services from the centre and other contractors across South Okanagan.

Executive director Daryl Meyers says she learned about Interior Health's decision in early February. She doesn't know how the centre could remain open after Interior Health withdraws its funding that makes up over 90 per cent of the non-profit's budget.

"It came as quite a shock to both myself and the staff, considering we're in two pandemics [COVID-19 and drug overdoses] and that we have been in Penticton for 47 years offering addiction services," Meyers said to Chris Walker, the host of CBC's Daybreak South.

Every year Pathways provides a range of services to about 1,000 clients, including counselling and drug-use prevention education at schools.

Meyers says it could be challenging for her clients to transition to recovery services provided by Interior Health, for which they may have to wait longer.

"As soon as someone comes to our office, we get to see them right away. They see a counsellor right away and then they are connected with a counsellor within two weeks," she said.

"We're connected with a myriad of other organizations and resources in the community, so we're able to get people out to connect with all the other things that they may need on their road to recovery."

In a written statement to CBC News, Interior Health says there will be no decrease in services given to people with addiction issues after it takes over the services. It says it has "significantly improved the substance use services offered directly by Interior Health" because of increased funding from the provincial government over the last two years.

The statement also says the change will allow it to spread resources across the Southern Okanagan

Meyers says her organization will meet with Interior Health Thursday, while in the meantime seeking help from elsewhere.

"We're going to talk with other organizations. We're going to look at different funding streams. We're going to see how we can change up a bit of our service and be able to hopefully rally the community to stand behind us and want to see us stay open," she said.

According to the latest report by B.C. Coroners Service, Interior Health records the third highest drug toxicity death rate after Northern Health and Vancouver Coastal Health.

Tap the link below to hear Daryl Meyers's interview on Daybreak South: