News Release

Date: September 4, 2008

For immediate release

Government of Canada and Province of British Columbia Collaborate on addictions treatment programs in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside

OTTAWA, September 4, 2008 – Individuals living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside will benefit from two new treatment services thanks to an investment by the Government of Canada.

The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health, and the Honourable George Abbott, B.C. Minister of Health Services, today announced an investment of $10 million for two new treatment initiatives aimed at helping people with complex mental health issues and addiction problems to full recovery.

“These two new treatment initiatives represent the creation of treatment stabilization beds and the launch of an effective service delivery model so that persons with more disabling disorders have a range of treatment options,” said Minister Clement. “This investment demonstrates our Government’s commitment to help to bring addicts to full recovery and promote healthy life-style choices.”

“Some of the most serious types of mental illnesses and addiction issues are seen in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside,” said B.C. Health Services Minister George Abbott. “The new specifically designed treatment services and the 20 treatment beds for marginalized women support our plan to get some of our most vulnerable residents off the streets, provide transitional support and bring stability into people’s lives.”

“These new services will augment the significant addiction treatment programs we already provide in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside,” said Dr. David Marsh, Medical Director of Addiction, HIV and Aboriginal Health Services for Vancouver Coastal Health. “Treatment is a key part of our continuum of care, and existing programs will be an important and ongoing source of referrals to these new services.”

The first service initiative is a new Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) for Concurrent Disorders, and the second is a Residential/Day Program for Female Survival Sex Workers in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

As part of the National Anti-Drug Strategy’s Treatment Action Plan, these new and comprehensive treatment service initiatives are aimed at helping individuals with complex mental health and addiction problems, with a focus on women involved in the sex trade, living in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. The new treatment service initiatives include:

  • an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team of 12 professionals representing the fields of psychology, medicine, nursing, social work, and rehabilitation counselling who will provide 24/7 community-based comprehensive mental health and addictions care to people with severe and persistent mental illness and addiction problems in order to connect these individuals with mainstream services over time; and,
  • a new Women’s Residential/Day Program that will provide 20 abstinence-based treatment stabilization beds at the Rainier Hotel for women who have gone through withdrawal. The Residential/Day Program will offer: assessment and treatment of health issues, case management, mental health and addiction counselling, and where necessary, the administration of methadone maintenance treatment, and restorative and therapeutic activities such as acupuncture and yoga.

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority is implementing these treatment service programs in partnership with the BC Ministry of Health Services, the BC Ministry of Housing and Social Development, the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addictions, as well as community-based organizations and women's service agencies.

For more information about the Assertive Community Treatment for Concurrent Disorders, and the Residential/Day Program for Female Survival Sex Workers, please contact the BC Ministry of Health Services.

For more information about this and related announcements, please visit the National Anti-Drug Strategy Web site.

The National Anti-Drug Strategy is a collaborative effort by Health Canada, Public Safety Canada and Justice Canada and includes three action plans: preventing illicit drug use; treating those with illicit drug dependencies; and combating the production and distribution of illicit drugs.

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