Editor’s note: An original version of this story stated the program would be in downtown Peterborough. However, MPP Dave Smith says it will not be situated in the downtown core. The article has been updated.
On Tuesday, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith and Michael Tibollo, Ontario associate minister of mental health and addictions, announced $1,138,800 in funding through the Addiction Recovery Fund to establish a program to be run in partnership by the Four Counties Addiction Services Team (Fourcast) and the Canadian Mental Health Association Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge branch (CMHA HKPR). The organizations outlined their program proposal earlier this year.
The program will open six residential treatment beds and six residential withdrawal management beds (offering medical supervision and services) and six-day treatment spaces made possibly by redeploying existing services at Fourcast.
The City of Peterborough and Peterborough County are also each contributing $100,000 to the program. A location for the program in Peterborough has yet to be announced but the program is expected to be operational by Sept. 1, Smith said.
Smith says he has heard the repeated call for help to help address the region’s opioid crisis. He calls the announcement a “watershed moment” for the community.
“I have strongly said since being elected that we need to find pathways to treatment,” he said. “This is another treatment option for us. Having the ability to have people from our community go to detox and complete their rehab here, close to home, is one more tool in the toolbox for them.
“Working towards sobriety is what we need to be doing and this is one of the options for people to use.”
Peterborough Mayor Jeff Leal says like many Ontario cities, Peterborough is facing a mental health and addictions crisis. He said the services to be offered will “go a long way” to help people in need.
“On behalf of council, I want to thank the government of Ontario, MPP Smith and Minister Tibollo for their support.”
Peterborough County Warden Bonnie Clark echoed Leal’s sentiments, noting addiction impacts “our neighbours, friends and family.”
“The specialized services offered at this treatment and detox centre will help them on the path to recovery,” she said. “This laudable initiative supported by the government and community organizations will benefit families across Peterborough County by bringing care close to home.”
Tibollo said the announcement is a “testament” of community partners coming together.
“Absent the unified efforts of the province, city, county, CMHA-HKPR and Fourcast, today would not be possible,” he said.
“Treatment and recovery are the key to solving the addiction crisis. The investment in a bed-based residential treatment and withdrawal management program will establish pathways to save countless lives and build up the continuum of care in the Peterborough region.”
According to the latest data on Peterborough Public Health’s opioid harms portal, from January to March, there were 23 suspected fatal drug doses (data not yet posted for April).
Over the last 12 months (April 2022 to March 2023), there were 70 suspected fatal drug poisonings — an average of one every six days. For 2022, there were 59 suspected fatal overdoses.
In March 2023, there were 34 visits to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre’s emergency department for opioid overdoses, nearly on par with 32 in February and 33 in January. For all of 2022, there were 539 overdoses requiring an ER visit.
From April 2022 to March 2023, there were 516 drug poisonings that required a visit to the ER, and 56 per cent of the incidents involved men. Half of all the visits were by people between the ages of 25 and 44.