Union calls on Sask. government to help secure location for Pine Lodge
REGINA -- The union that represents employees at the Pine Lodge Treatment Centre is calling on the Government of Saskatchewan to help secure a home for the centre.
Three councillors in the Resort Village of Fort San voted to block the treatment centre from coming to the community last week. The vote also prevented other addictions treatment centres like it from leasing the land of the former Prairie Christian Training Centre in Fort San. That decision is being appealed, but the centre is still without a home. Pine Lodge has been looking for a temporary new home after a fire affected its ability to use its Indian Head location.
“We are looking at other options. The Saskatchewan Health Authority is helping us out with come suggestions and we’ll take a look at those and see if we can go forward with one of those,” Brenda Behrns, Pine Lodge Treatment Centre Administrator said.
Behrns said currently close to 90 patients are on Pine Lodge’s waitlist, and that number continues to grow.
“They’re all crying for help, and plus the staff as well, we want a place to come to work again,” Behrns said.
In a news release, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) accuses Premier Scott Moe and the Sask. Party government of negligence in its “lack of response to the overdoses crisis.”
Pine Lodge is offering outpatient services, but less than half have chosen to participate. Behrns said while some clients are receiving outpatient services, the inpatient services is what is needed.
“If that’s just meaning talking to them over the phone, giving them some encouragement, that’s what we can do at the moment,” Behrns said.
“It’s not just about Pine Lodge, we’re calling on the government to address the problem of the backlog. So we have a facility that’s not opened right now. They’ve been quite silent on the fact of trying to assist them to find a home,” said Judy Henley, CUPE Saskatchewan president.
Henley said the overdose numbers continue to be concerning in Saskatchewan and more mental health and addictions services are needed.
“We need to recognize that this is a service that has longly been neglected and needs to be brought to the forefront,” Henley said.
According to Henley, the chances of clients relapsing is higher because many are on a wait list for services.
“Not having the face to face, not having the ability to treat people in person is not positively effecting some of their clients,” Henley said. “With COVID they were able to immediately expand beds and different wards and do all these things, because of a pandemic. To me this is a different crisis.”
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health did not address CTV News’ request for an interview with the Minister of Health on this matter. A statement was provided in an email.
"We value Pine Lodge Treatment Centre’s long-standing commitment to providing substance use treatment in the province and look forward to Pine Lodge securing interim space until their building can be repaired or replaced," Jennifer Graham, senior media relations consultant for the Ministry of Health said in an email.
CUPE said its members will be reaching out to community partners on the front lines of the overdose crisis, and encouraging them to “confronting the Moe government over its lack of response to the overdose crisis.”
“People are dying. People who are waiting for help are relapsing,” Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan, said. “The province needs to immediately step in and find a new home for Pine Lodge, while at the same time boost long-term funding for addictions treatment in Saskatchewan. Those waiting for treatment can’t wait any longer.”
The news release said overdose deaths in the province are the direct result of negligence by the provincial government.