After years of promises and false starts, the Nunavut government is exploring the possibility of opening the territory’s first residential trauma and addictions treatment centre in decades.
A government division responsible for suicide prevention and wellness, the Quality of Life Secretariat, issued a request for proposals (RFP) this spring for a consultant to write a four-part report on Nunavut’s addictions treatment needs and what a possible treatment program would look like.
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The territory has been without a residential addictions treatment centre for almost 20 years. A mobile addictions treatment program started in Cambridge Bay this spring.
Currently, people living with addictions who are seeking residential treatment need to travel outside the territory to places like the Mamisarvik Healing Centre in Ottawa — an Inuit-specific treatment centre.
The terms of reference for the proposal says the consultant should present options that “would support Nunavummiut with accessing in-territory trauma and addictions treatment that is grounded in Inuit culture, support continued recovery, and foster healing.”
The RFP lays out Nunavut’s struggles with trauma and substance use in statistics familiar to many in the territory.
One bullet point says reports from the Baffin Correctional Centre indicate “95 per cent of inmates reported having alcohol and drug-related issues.”
Another says: “The Chief Coroner of Nunavut reported that 23 per cent of all premature deaths in Nunavut between 1999 and 2007 involved binge drinking and 30 per cent of all homicides were associated with substance use.”
Of the four-part report, the first two are due this October; the final two are due in April 2018.
Addictions facility promised by 2013
The RFP comes more than a year after former Health Minister Paul Okalik stated that a Nunavut-based addictions facility was a long-term goal.
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This isn’t the first time the Nunavut government has tried to open another residential treatment centre.
The previous government’s Tamapta action plan from 2009 promised an addictions treatment centre by 2013.
“The Government of Nunavut will open a culturally-relevant substance-abuse treatment facility,” the plan said.
“And support the expansion of community-based programs to provide both preventative services and aftercare for those who receive focused treatment outside of their communities.”
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