NDP claims former premier involved in meth addiction treatment project
The dome of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building is seen in this file image. (Brendan Ellis/CTV News)
REGINA -- The NDP opposition claims influence from former Saskatchewan Premier Grant Devine played a part in specialized methamphetamine addiction treatment services coming to Estevan, something the government denies.
During question period Wednesday the NDP revealed an email reportedly sent by Devine in late 2019 to Brad Wall’s former chief of staff, Joseph Donlevy.
Attached is a presentation titled “The Development of an Addiction Treatment Centre in Saskatchewan” from a company called Cedars, who specialize in the treatment of various addictions.
The presentation proposes the establishment of a 100 bed addiction treatment centre somewhere in Saskatchewan but a location is not specified.
In the email, Devine writes “our objective is to present a well documented model to Premier [Scott] Moe in the new year.”
The NDP says the facility detailed is similar to the one being established at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Estevan.
“Exactly what is the role of Mr. Devine in this project, why was he involved with advocating to the government?” NDP Leader Ryan Meili said following question period. “Why was he using those political connections and why does a for-profit company go ahead and get the first crystal meth inpatient addictions facility in the province?”
Health Minister Jim Reiter says neither he nor the premier have discussed this project with Devine.
“I contacted the CEO of St. Joseph’s [Tuesday] night,” Reiter said. “He again reiterated that Grant Devine played no role in the Estevan project.”
However, Reiter says St. Joseph’s did consult Cedars for expertise and that someone in the company had worked with Devine in the past, noting the recommendation to look at the company did not come through the former premier.
“Grant Devine apparently was considering advocating for a couple of projects in Saskatchewan,” Reiter said, adding the two projects were reportedly meant for Saskatoon and Prince Albert. “I’m assuming there’s a confusion over what projects these are. I don’t believe any advocacy that they were planning on doing, which they haven’t done with myself or the premier, involved this project.”
Meili still questions many aspects of the project, including the location.
“There’s a whole lot there that doesn’t make sense, when so much has been advocated for in recent years for help for crystal meth and suddenly this is the project that goes forward with no tenders, with no public discussion of how that happened,” Meili said.
“They have the space and the availabity, those beds that they’re opening used to be addictions beds and they’re reopening them,” Reiter said. “It just seemed a natural fit.”
The Ministry of Health says it will be looking into what happened but adds this will not delay the project’s timeline.