The union representing workers at Pine Lodge Treatment Centre are raising concerns that the delay in relocating the facility from Indian Head to Fort San is putting lives at risk.

Pine Lodge Treatment Centre was located in the community of Indian Head for more than 30 years until a fire last December forced its closure.  Although the facility was able to make plans to relocate to the Village of Fort San, the local Mayor and council have decided to delay approval.

“Treatment centres like Pine Lodge are needed now more than ever with mounting evidence that Saskatchewan is facing an addictions crisis,” said Aimee Nadon, national representative with the Canadian Union of Public Employees. 

Nadon pointed to data from the Saskatchewan Coroners Service which indicates that there were 78 drug overdose deaths in 2010.  Once the reports for 2020 are finalized, they will show that the number of overdose deaths in Saskatchewan has more than tripled to 377.

“There are so many people who are suffering with addictions during the pandemic. Reopening Pine Lodge as quickly as possible would help improve access to treatment,” added Nadon. “The centre has assisted thousands of people begin their recovery from addiction and get their lives back since its founding in 1986.”

“The waiting list for treatment is growing longer everyday Pine Lodge remains closed.  When you add to that the recent layoffs at the facility, the negative effects of this closure on the community are expanding” said Nadon. “The quick reopening of the larger facility would allow them to hire additional staff on top of those already on layoff, and the increased beds would reduce the waiting list and allow people to get help quicker.”

Nadon also acknowledged the financial benefits from the increased number of beds. “The entire community will benefit from the additional jobs the treatment centre will bring. There will be more people spending time and money in the community, not just during the summer, but in the off season as well,” said Nadon.

“Like in other places where addiction treatment centres exist, there is often a misconception that clients in treatment care are using drugs,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “These are everyday people who are just trying to make life better for themselves and their families.”

The community of Fort San already hosts a treatment facility. The Leading Thunderbird Lodge (LTL) has been successfully providing addictions treatment for many years and has become a trusted community partner.  LTL has expressed strong support for the relocation of Pine Lodge.

“Over time, LTL has grown into a valuable community partner, and proves that treatment centres can work successfully to address the concerns of local citizens. Their strong support for the Pine Lodge relocation is welcome news,” added Henley.

“CUPE has always fought for the economic and social health of our communities, and we believe Pine Lodge Treatment Centre is an important resource at a time when addictions treatment is needed in Saskatchewan now more than ever,” Henley concluded.