Program to focus on summer employment
Tracey Tong/metro ottawa
For every mattress an addict crashes on in a city crack house, local activists want the province to provide a bed in a treatment facility.
That was the message Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) sent Madeleine Meilleur yesterday during a demonstration in which members deposited mattresses taken from local crack houses at the Ottawa-Vanier MPP’s constituency office.
According to Vanier ACORN chairman Evan Soikie, funding for addiction treatment services has only increased five per cent over the past 15 years.
“That does not even meet inflation and it definitely does not even meet demand,” he said.
“What we are asking for is a very significant increase in addictions funding, bring it up to a level it should have been at over the last 15 years.”
The city recently scrapped a controversial municipal program that provided free crack pipe kits to addicts, but the move came with a vow by Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien to push the province for local treatment beds to help addicts recover.
Vanier resident Sherry Fayad said the province must step up, because she is tired of seeing her neighborhood corrupted by crack and other drugs.
“I’m tired of them … sitting at the bottom of my stairwell getting stoned,” she said. “(We) should be treating these kids and help them get off the street and contribute to the community.”
Meilleur acknowledged drug addiction is a problem and said the province and the city are preparing a business plan for a youth treatment centre.
“We’ve taken steps, but we know that there is more to do,” she said. “It’s a problem not only in Ottawa but throughout the province. We’re working with our partners and with experts to improve the service.”
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