Interior Health’s CEO has rejected Penticton city council’s request to restore funding to Pathways Addiction and Resource Centre.
A letter from IH CEO Susan Brown was sent to city council on Sept. 14 and appears in Penticton city council’s agenda package for the Oct. 19 meeting.
In the letter, Brown said IH has added services and counselling since it discontinued the Pathways contract and took addictions and mental health services in-house May 31.
Brown said it will not restore funding to Pathways, adding that rumours and misinformation are causing ‘frustrations locally.’
She did not elaborate on the nature of the rumours.
“I appreciated the concerns city council has raised about Interior Health’s decision to discontinue contracts …with Pathways. It is unfortunate that misinformation and rumour is contributing to frustration locally, when IH has made it a priority to support a smooth transition for clients to strengthen services overall.”
Interior Health’s Carl Meadows was in front of council in September where he was peppered with questions about the decision to defund the addictions resource centre.
Coun. James Miller asked if anyone from IH had ever been inside Pathways, to which Meadows responded that they had not.
In her letter, Brown said IH has increased substance use counselling to Keremeos and south to Oliver and Osoyoos. It also implemented the phone number 310- MHSU for anyone seeking access to addictions and mental health services.
Brown’s letter is in response to Penticton mayor John Vassilaki and city council calling on IH to restore funding immediately to Pathways. That letter from council was sent on Sept. 5.
At the last council meeting, a notice of motion made by coun. Julius Bloomfield to be a funding partner with Pathways was rejected by the rest of council.
“Pathways is a much-needed service in our community,” said Bloomfield at the Oct. 5 meeting. “As community leaders we can play a role.”
Council said it is IH’s responsibility and should not fall to a municipality.
Pathways recently re-opened with a fee for service model. The need for Pathways was so great, they had to find a way to help people in the Okanagan who weren’t finding the help, said executive director Daryl Meyers.
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