Sarnia asks province to approve temporary withdrawal management centre

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Sarnia’s mayor says the community has made a new pitch to the provincial government for a temporary withdrawal management facility.

Mike Bradley and other politicians, First Nations chiefs, and local stakeholders met with Ontario Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott in a teleconference call Tuesday afternoon.

He said an excellent presentation was made.

“We’re making the pitch for a temporary facility that would have 12 beds that is already available, ready to go, and wouldn’t cost the ministry much more to run today,” said Bradley. “So that was the ask today and I’m hoping to hear back from the minister within a week to ten days with a positive answer because it’s desperately needed and in the interim before we get the permanent facility, would take care of the need.”

Bluewater Health already operates seven withdrawal management beds at the Sarnia hospital and has access to a second facility at an undisclosed location. It’s estimated it would take two years to build a new, permanent centre.

Mayor Bradley said the local addiction problem has become even worse during the pandemic.

“Right now Bluewater Health is turning people away and that is just unacceptable, not their fault, they simply don’t have the capacity to deal with the addictions,” he said.

The Ford government has indicated support in principle for a permanent 24-bed centre estimated initially to cost $8.8 million, but the project has been stalled waiting for provincial approvals.

Bradley says he’s been lobbying for a detox centre for 20 years through three different governments.

As a candidate for the Ontario PC party leadership in March of 2018 Christine Elliott said she’d ensure funding flows for a withdrawal management facility in Sarnia.