At a time when the number of homeless people is increasing in Quebec, 16 addiction treatment centers have closed their doors in the last 10 years, eliminating more than 800 beds intended for vulnerable populations in the province, estimates the Coalition of Community Organizations against Addictions. .
Last week, the Municipal Summit on Homelessness highlighted cities’ demands on the Quebec government to address this crisis. Among the solutions, addiction treatment centers must be taken into account, says Nicolas Bédard, spokesperson for the Coalition.
We’re not talking about treatment, we’re not talking about helping them out of their misery. We are talking about finding a bed for them to spend the night and for them to return to the street the next day or to use it and then return to the street.
Referring to supervised injection or inhalation centers, Bédard believes that the closure of hundreds of beds in addiction treatment centers has a direct impact on the homeless crisis in Quebec.
Since 2013, the closure of long-term care centers has led to the withdrawal of 830 beds intended for people receiving social assistance, estimated Bédard, who is also the director of a center.
Yes, we have to find them housing, but before looking for housing for them, if they consume, they will not be able to pay the rent and we will return to the starting point. Housing prices are also part of the problem.
Rents are so high that residents who finish treatment can’t afford to find housing, he says. Then they return to the shelters and consume again. It is a wheel that turns.
Today, addiction treatment centers are full, so a person who needs help may find themselves on a waiting list for several weeks or even a month or two. Before the pandemic, people in need were assisted within a few hours, says the Coalition spokesperson.
The centers are currently at maximum capacity. (This situation in a context of) dependency, is really not good, because when a person calls a center because he needs help with dependency, he should immediately do so. There is a direct link to the increase in overdoses.indicates Mr. Bédard.
We are beginning to feel that there are operational deficits throughout the network.he continues.
These problems are due to the poor financing of the centres, the fact that the amounts awarded to them are not indexed and the increase in the salaries of the centres’ employees, which was instituted so that these jobs would remain attractive. compared to those of the health network, explains Bédard.
If funding is not increased, it is believed that 50% of existing centers will close in the next 18 months.
Request for a meeting with Minister Carmant
Bédard indicates that the Coalition has not met with the Minister of Social Services, Lionel Carmant, since 2021.
During the pandemic, we had almost monthly meetings, partnerships with the long-term care sector in Quebecmentioned, saying that he hopes to meet with the minister soon.
Mr. Bédard maintains that
It’s not in the plans of Mr. Carmant to increase funding given to addiction treatment centers or to expand the pool of graduates who could come and work in the centers to fill labor shortages.
In 2021, we increased funding for dependent housing from $6 million to $10 million annually, a 66% increase in funding.Minister Carmant’s press secretary, Lambert Drainville, responded in writing. During the summer, meetings were held with the COCD (Coalition of Community Organizations against Addictions) and the APOD (Professional Association of Organizations against Addictions) to discuss the current situation, in addition to various exchanges with the AQCID (Association of Intervention Centers against Addictions). Quebec Dependency).
A meeting between the minister and the associations is planned for the coming weeksMr. Drainville also indicated, saying that he received the meeting request on September 19.
Regarding expanding the group of graduates,
We are sensitive to your demands, but the regulatory requirements for those involved in RHD (dependent accommodation resources) aim to guarantee the safety of the people housed and the quality of the services offered.he wrote.
After The Canadian Press contacted Mr. Carmant’s office, the Coalition received an email from the minister’s office saying a meeting would be scheduled for early October.