Protesters gather as Interior Health prepares to pull addiction resource funding

This Penticton man came out Sunday because as his sign says ‘Pathways saved my life.’ He’s hoping next Sunday they have enough people to line the sidewalk all the way to Interior Health. (Monique Tamminga Western News)This Penticton man came out Sunday because as his sign says ‘Pathways saved my life.’ He’s hoping next Sunday they have enough people to line the sidewalk all the way to Interior Health. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
More than 40 people with signs demonstrated their support outside Pathways Addictions Resource Centre on Sunday. (Monique Tamminga Western News)More than 40 people with signs demonstrated their support outside Pathways Addictions Resource Centre on Sunday. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
More than 40 people rally in support of Pathways outside their Main St. centre on Sunday. (Monique Tamminga)More than 40 people rally in support of Pathways outside their Main St. centre on Sunday. (Monique Tamminga)

‘Pathways Saves Lives’ was the message of more than 40 people who demonstrated outside Pathways Addictions Resource Centre on Main Street on Sunday, as Interior Health prepares to pull the facility’s funding.

“It’s ludicrous. Why take something away that works in the community,” says Lorna, who was outside Pathways collecting signatures for a petition she will present to Penticton MLA Dan Ashton.

“The people that are going to suffer are the addicts who use Pathways — that is, the drug addicts, the alcoholics and the gamblers,” she said. “It’s all about power and politics. What about the people in this town that need these services?”

The demonstration was greeted by countless honks of support.

One demonstrator said the hope next Sunday is to get even more supporters out so they can line Main Street all the way to the Interior Health building.

Interior Health is pulling all of Pathways’ funding to bring addiction services in-house.

Pathways serves around 1,000 people per year and has been in the community for more than 30 years.

Work has already started to transition addiction services in-house and away from Pathways, said Dr. Shallen Letwin, IH vice president of clinical operations.

With nearly 100 per cent of their funding coming from IH, Pathways has started a GoFundMe page to try to remain open. More than $4,000 has been raised through the fundraiser so far, but it remains well short of the $500,000 goal. A Change.org petition now has more than 2,600 signatures from people opposing IH’s decision.

Currently, there are nine counsellors and clinical staff at Pathways.

READ ALSO: Interior Health plans to transition Pathways’ clients to them

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