Penticton’s MLA is weighing in on Interior Health’s decision to pull funding from Pathways Addictions Resource Centre.
Pathways has been serving Penticton for over 20 years but IH has decided to bring addiction services in-house as of June 1. The news has concerned community leaders, current and past clients and residents alike.
Penticton MLA Dan Ashton said Pathways plays a crucial role in the helping people overcome addictions.
“Pathways has created longstanding relationships built on trust. It is greatly concerning to me that these relationships that provide critically important services could become at risk,” said Ashton.
Pathways serves around 1,000 people per year with continued care that can last years.
Ashton said he believes Penticton’s most vulnerable who work with Pathways deserve to have a full understanding of what these changes mean to them and “how these same services could be delivered in a way that builds upon the same level of trust that exists today.”
“I am reminded these days of my fiercest critic, the late James Banko, who worked tirelessly to expose the many challenges created when Interior Health changed its relationship with the Living Positive Resource Society,” he added. “As James was able to effectively establish, it was exceedingly difficult to transparently see how those same services were delivered effectively by Interior Health.”
Penticton doesn’t have any publicly-funded abstinence-based treatment beds or publicly-funded detox facilities, said Ashton.
“For many struggling with addictions, requiring those services remains serious challenges to access them. This needs to change,” he said.
Penticton’s Desiree Franz and others are planning a protest against defunding Pathways.
Franz is also one of the organizer of Friday’s protest in Gyro Park against council’s decision to deny Victory Church an extension for the homeless shelter there.
Meanwhile, Pathways has launched a GoFundMe page hoping to raise $500,000, which is the amount needed to continue to offer addiction services.
Nearly 100 per cent of Pathways’ funding was through Interior Health.
“Pathways may have to close its doors if funding cannot be found,” said executive director Daryl Meyers.
“Substance use and addictions is far reaching and the stigma that comes from it has enormous layers,” reads the statement on GoFundMe. “The best chance people have in triggering change is to work together to understand addiction and the effect it has on everyone. We have all been touched by substance use and addiction.”
Past and current clients of Pathways have come out to say that they have relationships with the Pathways staff for years as they continue their journey of sobriety. It is a continued relationship of trust that they don’t believe could happen through Interior Health.