Saskatchewan’s current addictions crisis is the direct result of neglect by the provincial government, who must now act quickly to slow the record number of addiction related deaths, according to the president of CUPE Saskatchewan.

At the centre of the crisis is a lack of treatment centres in the province, which is creating longer and longer wait times. These wait times have only increased with the closure of Pine Lodge Treatment Centre last December, a facility that has been called one of the finest in-patient treatment centres in western Canada. Since a fire devasted Pine Lodge on Christmas Eve, the province has taken no action whatsoever to either rebuild the old facility or secure a new location. The Resort Village of Fort San recently voted against allowing Pine Lodge to move into that community.

“We have qualified addictions treatment workers with years of experience who are left sitting on their hands because patients can’t get to treatment,” said Judy Henley, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “People are dying in record numbers, and yet the province is not even talking about this, let alone taking the action that is needed.”

The current crisis in addictions has reached a level never before seen in this province and is the direct result of many years of neglect. The combined confirmed and suspected drug toxicity deaths in Saskatchewan skyrocketed in 2020 to 345. That is almost double the drug toxicity deaths from 2019, and four times the number of confirmed deaths in 2010. The Saskatchewan Coroners Service is already reporting 75 suspected or confirmed drug toxicity deaths in the first two months of 2021. This means that we are on track to meet or exceed last year’s record number of deaths due to drug toxicity.

“People are dying. People who are waiting for help are relapsing,” added Henley. “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.”

Over the next several weeks, CUPE Saskatchewan plans to reach out to our community partners who are on the front lines of the crisis, and encourage them to join us in confronting the Moe government over its lack of response to the overdose crisis.