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N.B. youth mental health, addictions treatment centres remain unopened


The New Brunswick government says both an addictions treatment facility in Campbellton and a youth mental health centre in Moncton will open in 2022 and 2025, respectively.

The department of health did not confirm if either of those dates are delayed or pushed back, but advocates feel they are.

In Campbellton, the building first designed as the youth mental health centre – or ‘Centre of Excellence’ – started construction in 2018. A year later, the Blaine Higgs government decided to move the centre to Moncton, after calls to reconsider its location.

The partially-built building was then slated to become a residential addictions rehabilitation treatment facility, and an additional $10 million was earmarked to make the change.

Almost two-and-a-half years later, the addictions facility is still not complete, and land in Moncton hasn’t been purchased for the youth mental health treatment centre yet, although the province says their aiming to do both in 2022.

“The construction of the new facility for adults with concurrent substance use and mental health issue in Campbellton is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2022,” said department of health spokesperson Bruce MacFarlane.

“This new facility will see an increase of six beds. The existing addiction services centre in Campbellton continues to operate in it’s existing location with 18 beds which also includes providing withdrawal management treatment.”

Macfarlane said the “Provincial Youth Treatment Centre” is scheduled to be “fully operational” by 2025.

“For this fiscal period (2022-2023), work will be focused on Land purchase, design of the new building and construction documents,” he said.

The Liberal MLA for Restigouche West, Gilles LePage, believes both projects are experiencing “major delays.”

“The delays are unbearable,” he said. “The plans are not ready yet, the lot hasn’t even been decided so is it a provincial priority? I doubt it.”

Youth advocate hopes government makes youth centre more of a priority

Cindy Miles says the gaps in care for youth have only gotten larger in recent years.

Miles is the director of government and community partnerships at Partners for Youth – an organization that works with, and advocates for, children and youth in New Brunswick.

She’s also on the advisory committee for the youth mental health centre project and says the role of that committee was to support and guide the province to bettering mental health access for youth.

“We have an incredible network of youth, family, community and NGO’s that really want to be engaged in the creation of a continuum of care that that does work for all. The research is done, the consultations have been done, we know that this centre must be part of, and done, in lock step with the system of care that is supportive of earlier interventions, prevention and supportive of community capacity,” Miles said in an interview with CTV Atlantic.

“If it’s not then we may as well put a revolving door on it. We really need to be supporting folks, and their families and caregivers and allies and their communities with access to specialized services when they’re needed. Not three, six, eight months from now. ”

Miles says she believes the intent of those who work within government is good, that they want the centre to be realized but the reality on the ground is much different.

“Movement has been painstakingly slow, devastatingly slow for so many. We’ve been having these conversations for over a decade ...There’s a delay. And I know that the committee that I sit on is tired of me asking that, ‘What is taking so long?’ and I can’t speak to why that delay is there, but from my bird’s eye view – and I’m sure to many others – it doesn’t seem like a priority. Other projects have moved forward,” she said.

She says timely access for youth is possible. Partners for Youth has found success in one of its programs connecting youth to counselling within seven days from when a child or teen seek help.

The organization would also like to see the creation of a coalition on youth mental health, a conversation they’ve been having with government and community groups over the last 1.5 years. Miles says that’s key to bringing everyone together, working together, to improve access and communication.

“I want accountability from decision and policy makers as to why we’re still having these conversations and why lives are being lost when the path was laid out well over a decade ago. And that we will be moving forward with a system of care that works for kids and their supporters. That’s what I want and I don’t think it’s too much.”

If the department keeps to its target of opening a youth mental health treatment centre in 2025, it will have taken 17 years from when the concept was brought to government, to when it was realized. Top Stories

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