A Hamilton addiction treatment facility is getting $200,000 in funding ahead of the release of a new mental health and addictions plan for the province.
Michael Tibollo, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, made the announcement on Friday morning at Wayside House on Charleton Avenue, where the money will be used for significant infrastructure improvements.
The facility, which provides residential addiction treatment and supportive housing for men, will get new washrooms, showers, flooring and windows, along with fire safety equipment, security cameras and a back-up generator.
Wayside’s CEO Regan Anderson says the funding goes a long way toward making it easier for the time that people spend in recovery at the facility.
“It’s to improve the quality of life for the client, it’s to improve the infrastructure and safety, and to make sure that the experience for the client is as positive as possible,” said Anderson.
“Numerous guys that come into our program are coming in from environments that may not be so safe. So this needs to be a safe place for them for the three months that they’re here.”
During the announcement, Tibollo also teased the imminent release of the Ford government’s “roadmap” for improving mental health and addictions care across Ontario.
“We’re just waiting for the final touches,” said Tibollo, adding that they’ve consulted with stakeholders across the province.
“The plan is comprehensive in that it will look at all aspects — not just what we need to do in the way of building capacity, but also what we need to do to make sure that we never have to chase capacity as a way of resolving issues with mental health and addictions.”
Hamilton’s struggle with substance use and addiction — in particular, opioids — has been documented on the city’s website and by the Hamilton Drug Strategy, which recently released its 2019 community report.
There were 124 deaths caused by opioids in Hamilton in 2018, 111 per cent higher than the provincial rate.
Tibollo, who was the province’s Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services between June and November 2018, said he understands that Hamilton faces its own unique challenges.
He recalled one situation that he experienced first-hand during a ridealong.
“I attended on an individual who needed help one evening here in Hamilton, and to be honest with you, the part where it fell apart was … we didn’t know where to send him when he said he needed help,” he said.
“So that whole idea of a continuum of care being developed in the community … because we know, research has shown us, that if someone who lives in the vicinity of — or close to — the city where the services are, there’s a better chance of that person recovering.”
Wayside House, Tibollo said, is an example of the kind of wraparound care that he said is crucial to helping many people recover from addiction, which is why it was chosen to receive funding.
It establishes a relationship with patients as soon as they’re referred to Wayside, where each patient will go through a personalized treatment plan during their three-month stay.
There is a transition plan for each patient once they’ve completed their treatment, including finding them housing or employment.
“So it’s as seamless as possible,” said Anderson.
The funding is part of a $7.2-million investment from the province to address urgent infrastructure renewal needs for community health service providers through the 2019-20 Community Infrastructure Renewal Fund.