Supporters rally to save Kingston’s Integrated Care Hub

Click to play video: 'Supporters rally in downtown Kingston, urging the province to fund the Integrated Care Hub.'
Supporters rally in downtown Kingston, urging the province to fund the Integrated Care Hub.
WATCH: Community members rallied Friday to raise awareness of the fate of the Integrated Care Hub whose funding runs out in March – Feb 25, 2022

A Kingston, Ont., organization dedicated to helping the community’s most vulnerable residents is facing a dire situation – its funding is running out.

The Integrated Care Hub (ICH) is at risk of closure when emergency funding from the city of Kingston ends on March 31.

On Friday, supporters rallied outside the Kingston Ministry of Health building to put pressure on the province to pick up the tab for the care hub moving forward.

“People will go back into the woodwork, people will go back into spaces where they aren’t safe, where they’re alone, where they might be using alone, and that’ll just be tragic,” said social advocate Candace Christmas.

“This is a ticking-clock scenario. It’s going to be March on Monday and we still don’t have an announcement or solid funding available,” added rally organizer Jeremy Milloy.

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The care hub came into being after hundreds of unhoused people were camped out at Belle Park in 2020. The city provided emergency funding for the ICH, a place for people who need to access food, a bed, harm reduction supplies and a safe space to be.

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Christmas said that Kingston’s ICH is one of only two similar organizations in Canada that unifies multiple types of care that come from different sectors.

Last fall it was determined that the city could only fund the care hub until this spring — provincial funds would be needed if services were to continue.

“People will die if it closes. It is not negotiable for it to close. If it is not funded by the province I expect the city to do whatever necessary on an emergency basis to keep the hub open,” said Milloy.

According to Milloy, the services at the care hub have reversed hundreds of drug poisoning-related overdoses since it opened in the summer of 2020.

With time running out, the care hub supporters are hoping they can make enough noise to reach Queen’s Park.

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