An addictions resource centre in the South Okanagan, at-risk of closure due to funding cuts, is hopeful a new source of funding will keep the centre alive.
Pathways Addictions Resource Centre has been a cornerstone in the Okanagan city for 47 years. Five counsellors supported 1,000 clients per year with their drug and alcohol addiction challenges.
On March 2, the resource centre announced Interior Health will cancel its contracts as of May 31 to bring all substance use counselling services in-house to establish a single point of access.
Interior Health provided $500,000 in annual funding. Without financial support, Pathways said it may not survive.
It is now turning to the federal government for help.
Daryl Meyers, executive director at Pathways, said the federal government has issued a request for proposals for addictions and recovery services.
The organization plans to apply for funding to open a daytox outpatient withdrawal management program.
“The program would be based in Penticton where people could walk in at any time and request that they obtain service immediately. This would mean that they wouldn’t have to leave the community,” Meyers said.
Meyers successfully requested a letter of support from Penticton city council at the regular council meeting on Aug. 17.
“We don’t want to go away. We don’t want to disappear. We have a lot to offer the community. We are inundated with calls every single day of people looking for help because they are not finding it anywhere else,” she said.
Meyers said Pathways has had a fractious relationship with Interior Health since the funding cuts, and the organization is going it alone to try to stay open in some capacity.
City councillor Judy Sentes said Pathways has the support of city council.
“Congratulations on your diligence, trying to find new footing because the need continues to not only be there, but to grow,” she said.
The request of the letter passed unanimously.
Interior Health has said the change will improve mental health and substance use services in the South Okanagan.
“Interior Health can assure the community that no services are being reduced, in fact, programs will increase, and we are committed to ensuring the client transition is seamless and supported,” an unidentified spokesperson said in an email to Global News in March.