Home-grown ad­dic­tion treat­ment so­lu­tion eyed

Winnipeg Sun - - NEWS - — Joyanne Pursaga

Man­i­toba’s Health Min­is­ter will seek pri­vate pro­pos­als to add res­i­den­tial treat­ment spa­ces for those suf­fer­ing with se­vere men­tal health and ad­dic­tions is­sues.

Min­is­ter Cameron Friesen said his govern­ment will is­sue a re­quest for pro­pos­als to de­ter­mine which lo­cal fa­cil­i­ties want to of­fer govern­ment-funded spa­ces for those par­tic­u­lar pa­tients.

“We be­lieve this would be an im­por­tant area in which we may be able to save (money), be­cause we won’t be send­ing and pay­ing for air­line tick­ets to send peo­ple out of prov­ince and (can then) rein­vest that amount in ca­pac­ity here at home,” said Friesen.

Friesen did not re­veal the num­ber of spa­ces his govern­ment hopes to at­tract through the RFP or how much money it’s will­ing to spend on them.

The prov­ince says it pre­vi­ously sent such pa­tients for out-of-prov­ince care but only af­ter they first ex­hausted all Man­i­toba ser­vices and re­ceived a re­fer­ral from an ad­dic­tions physi­cian. Just 39 Man­i­to­bans re­ceived fund­ing for such treat­ment be­tween 2013 and 2017, the prov­ince says, in­clud­ing some who suf­fered from se­vere post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD), anx­i­ety and/or de­pres­sion.

Friesen said the prov­ince also ex­pects the per-client cost of in-prov­ince care would be “sub­stan­tially less” than that cur­rent treat­ment process, po­ten­tially free­ing up funds to treat more Man­i­to­bans.

The min­is­ter said he’s been told en­sur­ing res­i­den­tial treat­ment op­tions are avail­able near one’s sup­port net­work could also im­prove pa­tient out­comes.

“It’s im­por­tant on a jour­ney to well­ness as an ad­dict, as some­one who’s seek­ing this treat­ment, or as some­one with some very sig­nif­i­cant men­tal health is­sues, to be closer to home,” he said.

Friesen said the RFP is aimed at find­ing all pos­si­ble treat­ment ca­pac­ity in both the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor. He noted his govern­ment also added six men­tal health beds at Health Science Cen­tre and 12 ad­dic­tions treat­ment beds at an Ad­dic­tions Foun­da­tion of Man­i­toba fa­cil­ity.

But NDP leader Wab Kinew said he’s con­cerned by the lack of a firm com­mit­ment to add new spa­ces, which could al­low the RFP to sim­ply move where treat­ment is of­fered.

“What we’re see­ing with the meth cri­sis right now is we need way more points of en­try, way more treat­ment spa­ces, way more ac­cess to treat­ment,” said Kinew. “So, if you can bring it closer to home, I guess that there’s a ben­e­fit to that, but, really, we need to see a dra­matic in­crease in the over­all ef­fort to get peo­ple into treat­ment.”

The RFP will be posted later this month and close in 30 days.

JOYANNE PURSAGA/WIN­NIPEG SUN FILES

Cameron Friesen will so­licite pri­vate pro­pos­als to deal with the prov­ince’s mount­ing ad­dic­tions treat­ment prob­lems.

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