Following a review of recently made available reports, Natalie Mehra Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) director, Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas opposition health critic and Michael Hurley president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE), will hold a media conference in North Bay on Monday, February 3 (2020) at 10 a.m. at 120 Lakeshore Dr.

The rationale for the proposed closure of the 31-bed North Bay Regional Health Centre residential addiction treatment program, has until recently flown below the radar, say the three groups.

To date, there has been little public scrutiny on what the official reports are referring to as a ‘pilot’ for devolving hospital-based addiction treatment to a gamut of community agencies. There is little information about how the data that informed the ‘pilot’ rationale was collected.

What is clear from the reports’ data is that in North Bay/Timiskaming opioid and alcohol addiction rates are above the provincial average. This signals a need for more and diverse addiction treatment programs, including hospital-based residential recovery, not less, say the health coalition, the NDP health critic and OCHU, the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ontario.

Slowly information is trickling in that shows that some of the same agencies that will be filling the gap created by the defunding of the 31-bed hospital program, are also key stakeholders informing the ‘pilot’ community model. The North Bay experiment is one of only two such proposed pilots in Ontario.

A report by a so-called ‘mayor’s roundtable’ group on addictions treatment and mental health services has still not been made public.