The Manitoba government is giving $3.5 million to support the construction of a 50-bed addictions treatment centre in Winnipeg, although the family behind the project says they could have raised enough money on their own.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen announced Monday afternoon outside the Manitoba Legislature the money will go toward the capital costs of building the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre in Winnipeg’s Crestview neighbourhood.
Bruce Oake’s parents drove the creation of the centre that is named after their 25-year-old son who died of a tragic heroine overdose in Calgary, Alta., on March 28, 2011.
His father Scott Oake said at the news conference Monday the “generous” government funding will ensure that constructing the residential treatment centre will continue uninterrupted, and the project will open to the public on time.
“We were confident that we could have raised the money even without this provincial grant, but this is a high level of comfort and security for us, and as a result, we’re on schedule, we’ll stay on schedule, and we should be open, we hope, in a year,” Scott said.
Scott said workers from the contract building company have been working weekends to keep up with the deadline.
So far, he said, the Oakes have raised $10 million in the first 10 months of their first campaign, and they will be launching another run for donations soon, adding that the new money from government puts them “very close” to achieving their overall capital campaign goal.
Their capital campaign goal is $16 million to “construct, furnish and operate the facility,” according to the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre website.
Friesen said the family has been unwavering in their drive to commemorate Bruce’s life and give hope to others who are struggling to cope with substance abuse — “struggling to find meaning in a life that is marked with chaos, struggling to make sense of a world that increasingly doesn’t make sense and struggling especially during these pandemic times,” he said.
Certain facets of the long-term residential treatment centre will “depart from the norm” to ensure that Manitobans can get the care they need, when and where they need it despite their income, Friesen said.
“Because in this case you pay as you are able to pay and no one is unable to receive care because of a financial obstacle.”
Friesen said the grant falls in line with recent investments in mental health resources and addiction treatment, and will help fund the future health and well-being of Manitobans.
“As the stress of this pandemic unfolds, we know some people are especially vulnerable and the likelihood is high that someone you know, someone in your family, someone in your social circle [or] someone in your workplace is struggling with addiction or living with a history of addiction,” he said.
“There’s a lot of unease. There’s a lot of uncertainty. And with that comes a lot of hopelessness and depression and that can lead to a desire for escape, and that can lead to substance abuse,” he said.
These new beds will alleviate pressure on the existing system, Friesen said, and the centre itself will fulfill some recommendations in the VIRGO report — a provincial strategy developed by Toronto-based consultants for mental health and addictions that includes recommendations for lengthened treatment programs, improved access and co-ordinated care involving different programs, practitioners and organizations over time.
Friesen said the centre is scheduled to open in spring 2021.
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