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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.
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.”

READ MORE: Price of meth as low as $3 in Saskatoon

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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.”

USask research team developing a new app for reading non-prescription medicine labels
USask research team developing a new app for reading non-prescription medicine labels

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.”

READ MORE: Estevan, Sask. preparing for coal phase-out putting hundreds of jobs at risk

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.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan’s 2020-21 spending plan aims to serve as stimulus package during coronavirus pandemic

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.