Estevan, Sask. to receive specialized crystal meth treatment centre

The 20-bed treatment centre will be located in St. Joseph's Hospital in Estevan and will serve the entire southeast region of the province. Derek Putz / Global News

A 20-bed treatment centre aimed at helping crystal meth users is scheduled to open in Estevan, Sask. this year.

On Wednesday, the Government of Saskatchewan announced $1.4 million in funding to support the 20-bed centre, which will be within existing space at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig is praising the funding which he says is much-needed as the city hasn’t had a treatment centre for 24 years.

“We’re facing the same issues as other communities,” said Ludwig. “Once people get addicted, it’s a very sad situation. Everything is focused around getting that next high.

“And it’s a very unfortunate situation. It tears families apart and it’s a heartbreaking issue that we have.”

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Crystal meth has affected the City of Estevan especially in terms of crime.

“There’s crystal meth use in every community and a lot of that is associated with mental health issues as they go hand-in-hand,” Ludwig said. “In Estevan, roughly 60 to 65 per cent of our calls with police are associated with mental health.”

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The increase of meth use also comes at a time where the community is facing record job losses. In some cases, Ludwig says, job loss has been a contributing factor in people turning to drugs.

“We’ve been bleeding jobs until 2014 in the oil sector. And now we’ve had a layoff at the [Westmoreland Coal] Mine as well because of issues with the federal governments guidelines around carbon tax and coal not being as competitive with gas,” Ludwig said.
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“In some cases, that is a contributing factor.”

Meanwhile, the rate at which people seek treatment for crystal meth abuse in Saskatchewan continues to increase.

According to the government’s human services committee, in 2012-13, three per cent of people accessing addictions treatment reported using crystal meth. By 2017-18 the number increased to 30.58 per cent.

While the treatment centre is located in Estevan, it will serve the entire southeast region of the province.

The province is tackling a worsening addictions crisis by enhancing addictions and mental health services in their 2020-21 spending plan.

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Donna Harpauer announced an extra $12-million increase for mental health and addictions, bringing total funding to $435 million.

Some of that money will fund the treatment centre in Estevan, but will also provide mental health support for youth and children.

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