Penticton council disappointed in Interior Health's minimal response over Pathways Addictions Resource Centre

No clarity over Pathways

"If we were looking for clarity, we certainly didn't get it."

Penticton city council has been left with more frustration and questions than answers after receiving a response letter from Interior Health regarding Pathways Addictions Resource Centre.

IH announced in spring 2021 they were moving addictions counselling services in-house, giving Pathways notice as of May 31, they would no longer receive the provincial funding that made up 95 per cent of their annual budget.

In early September, with the backing of council, Vassilaki sent a letter to IH president and CEO Susan Brown formally requesting they resume granting Pathways $500,000 each year.

A brief letter back from Brown presented to council Tuesday left a sour taste in the mouths of some at the table.

Brown's response did not directly address the request to re-instate funding, and made the claim that "local misinformation and rumour is contributing to frustrations locally, when Interior Health has made it a priority to support a smooth transition for clients and to strengthen services overall."

That statement did not sit well with Coun. James Miller.

"I don't believe that the citizens of Penticton are spreading 'misinformation,' and that's coming from someone [Brown] who has never visited Pathways or spoken to the staff," Miller said.

"Ditto for the three [Interior Health] visitors who were here at our July meeting, again, zero visits to Pathways, yet they seem to be experts on what's best."

Coun. Katie Robinson said she too is disappointed.

"I'm more in the dark than I ever was, especially regarding that comment about the frustrations locally with misinformation and rumour," Robinson said.

"I was hoping to get an update from them on what happened in the transition, it seemed to be anything but smooth, as the reference made in this letter. If we were looking for clarity we certainly didn't get it."

Miller said it appears council has now done all it can for Pathways, but as a private citizen, he plans to keep advocating for it.

Council recently rejected a motion to explore a special funding partnership for Pathways with the municipality.

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