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More money could get more treatment beds open right away in Kelowna

John Yarschenko and Celine Thompson with The Bridge Youth and Family Services present to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services in Kelowna, Wednesday, June 12, 2019.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/The Bridge Youth and Family Services
June 12, 2019 - 11:48 AM

KELOWNA - The Central Okanagan is lagging far behind other parts of B.C. when it comes to helping people with addictions. Improvements could be made right away if more money became available, according to The Bridge Youth and Family Services.

The organization, which has been operating in the Central Okanagan since 1969, has 10 publicly funded “community beds” to serve a population of 200,000, it states in a news release. The Thompson-Nicola region, by comparison, has 20 beds to serve about 130,000 people.

“The Central Okanagan has the solutions but does not have the resources to effectively respond to the segment of our community who is desperately seeking our support for their problematic substance use,” Celine Thompson, The Bridge’s Executive Director, said in the release. “As they languish on wait lists, we waste their fleeting moments of courage to get the help that they need and want.”

The Bridge spoke to the provincial Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services when it met in Kelowna today, June 12, appealing for funding for two other programs as well.

It is ready to set up six live-in treatment beds for youth right away as a first step in trying to establish a permanent 16-bed youth facility. It says there are currently only 45 such publicly funded beds in B.C. None are in the Central Okanagan.

The Bridge also wants to add six more “facility-based” treatment beds for adults to the 20 it currently operates that cycle people through six-week treatment sessions. There can be waits of one to four months to get into this program.

In a presentation to Kelowna city council earlier this week, Interior Health made it clear that this region, on a per capita basis, lags behind other areas of the province when it comes to facilities needed to help people with what it terms as substance use problems.

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