Province Unveils Drug Treatment Strategy
Thursday, August 04, 2005 at 15:13
Premier Lorne Calvert has announced a three-year, $30-million strategy to address substance abuse in the province.
His plan, called “Project Hope”, was unveiled this morning in response to the release of a long-awaited report prepared by the Legislative Secretary on Substance Abuse and Treatment in Saskatchewan, MLA Graham Addley.
The government plans to triple the youth treatment capacity throughout the province, and will partner with First Nations and Ottawa to build a new 15-bed inpatient residential youth treatment facility in Prince Albert.
Other measures include a new 12-bed youth stabilization unit to be developed in Saskatoon, the doubling of the social detox capacity in Prince Albert and the creation of new outreach centres in P.A. and Saskatoon.
A new drug treatment court will also be established, and substance abuse treatment will be offered to youth in custody or who make an appearance in court.
In the North, the province will develop a mobile treatment service for youth in northern communities, and it will hire four additional addictions counsellors in the region.
Province-wide, Calvert says the government will provide respite support for families with substance-abusing youth, transition housing for youth and adults and a family treatment centre that will offer inpatient care for people with children.
The government is currently reviewing methods to help addicted youth who are difficult to engage, resistant to voluntary treatment and considered at-risk or serious harm to themselves or others. Recommendations are expected in the fall.
On the enforcement side, the government will hire four additional drug enforcement officers and two additional officers to enforce The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act.
The government will also expand an initiative designed to restrict the supply of ingredients used in the manufacture of crystal meth.
As far as prevention is concerned, the government plans to create a new Alcohol and Drug Prevention and Education Directorate to work with schools and other agencies.
Calvert is promising the new initiatives will get underway by October.
The new residential services are expected to be on-line within the next three years.
Meanwhile, the chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations says he isn’t overly impressed by the government’s new plan because it lacks First Nations’
FSIN chief Alphonse Bird credits the government with at least making a start in tackling the issue of drug addiction.
However, he wonders why it didn’t consult the FSIN about the strategy it was creating.
Bird says the majority of youth affected by today’s drug of choice, crystal meth, are of First Nations ancestry and he feels Addley should have taken that more into consideration.
Bird adds the FSIN already has a strategy of its own on how to deal with the issue.
He says training institutions like the SIIT also have training modules the government could have looked at before moving ahead with its plan.
He also isn’t sure if $10 million a year is really enough when you look at how seriously drugs are affecting the province’s youth.
Bird says the government is moving in the right direction, but adds it should consult more closely with the community that’s getting hit the hardest.