Rehab closure leaves gap

The sudden closing of a youth treatment centre in Keremeos was related to licensing issues, according to the provincial government. 

Connie Coniglio, provincial executive director for children and women's mental health and substance use programs, said her office had been working with The Crossing for quite a while on delivery of care.

"We have been negotiating for a number of months," she said. "At the end of October, there were some issues at the site regarding meeting community care licensing standards."

The Crossing, operated by Portage, closed on March 5.

Portage helps people suffering from substance abuse overcome their dependencies and live healther lives. It also provides addiction rehab centres in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario.

The Keremeos site opened in 2009 and treated hundreds of adolescents from all over the province. When operating at full capacity, it had more than 30 staff.

Among the issues related to the site were kitchen food and safety concerns, as well as staff qualifications.

Coniglio said because of this, the province ended up putting its own administrator at the site at the end of October. There were still clients there at that time, but the site did not admit any new youths after that.

There were plenty of conversations with Portage on the matter, with licensing becoming a big issue during the winter, said Coniglio.

"Ultimately they made the decision they didn't want to continue," she said.

There are a couple of other youth residential treatment centres in B.C., one in Prince George and another in Vancouver, but the closure of The Crossing leaves a gap.

"The need is there. Youth with severe substance use issues need a place to go to get treatment."

The province is following up with families who were on the waiting list at The Crossing and is working with health authorities to make sure the youth are connected to services.

Earlier this week, Seychelle Harding, director of communications for Portage, said the reason for the closure was "the budget required to run the centre was delayed," and the company felt it "couldn't maintain the place with that uncertainty."

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