The province says it has met its goal of 500 new substance abuse beds in the past four years. - Image: Pixabay

500 substance-use treatment beds in B.C.

Government says it has created 500 new beds in past four years including 49 in the Okanagan

The provincial government says it has opened 500 additional substance-use treatment and intervention beds throughout British Columbia in the last four years.

Health minister Terry Lake made the announcement today, saying the government is committed to providing support to those that need it.

“We are committed to providing the best supports to help people with substance-use challenges,” said Lake. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery, so we have opened a number of types of beds that work together to create a continuum of care. Each of these new beds represents a chance at recovery.”

In the Okanagan, 29 support and recovery beds have been opened as well as 16 new residential treatment beds and four new withdrawal beds over that time.

In 2013, the Ministry of Health, in partnership with the health authorities, set out to create 500 new substance-use beds in recognition that additional substance-use services were needed throughout the province. A provincial steering committee made of representatives from the ministry, regional health authorities, Provincial Health Services Authority and the First Nations Health Authority worked together to guide the implementation of the beds.

Many of the beds were a result of a collaborative effort and thoughtful planning between the health authorities, municipalities and First Nations, as well as local non-profit organizations. Of the 500 new substance-use treatment beds created, over 80 per cent were created in partnership with non-profits. In addition to partnering with local non-profits, many beds were developed with other key community providers such as BC Housing.

The following new beds have been opened in each health authority between 2013 and 2017:

* Fraser Health: 147

* Interior Health: 85

* Island Health: 93

* Northern Health: 30

* Provincial Health Services Authority: 14

* Vancouver Coastal Health: 131

* Total: 500

The distribution of beds across the health authorities varied based on the population needs and targeted areas of improvement in each individual region. The beds were created with key populations in mind (including youth, pregnant women and new mothers, and people with concurrent mental-health and substance-use concerns). More than 16 per cent of the beds were designed to provide culturally safe and appropriate services for Aboriginal people, with many developed in direct partnership with First Nations communities.

“It can be difficult for patients in need of or seeking treatment to find the support necessary for recovery,” said Dr. Evan Wood, director of the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use and professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia. “Expanding access to care, and ensuring the care provided meets the needs of that individual, is critical to effectively treating substance use.”

In addition to the 500 beds, the Province announced $10 million in January 2017 to provide better supports for long-term treatment and recovery in response to the overdose crisis. This funding will create at least 60 additional intensive residential treatment beds, 20 of which are for youth. It also supports the creation of 50 intensive outpatient treatment spaces, as well as one year of follow up care in the community.

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