Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith announced $367,480 in provincial funding for the “Moving Beyond Addiction” pilot project for mental health and addictions in Peterborough area at the Peterborough City-County Paramedics administrative office on March 4, 2022. (Photo: Office of MPP Dave Smith)

Following last week’s announcement of $1.3 million in provincial funding for a new Consumption and Treatment Services site in Peterborough, the Ontario government has announced additional funding to address the opioid crisis in the Peterborough area.

Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith announced $367,480 in provincial funding for the “Moving Beyond Addiction” pilot project on Friday (March 4) at a media conference at the Peterborough City-County Paramedics administrative office. He was joined by Whitepath Consulting president and CEO Peggy Shaughnessy and Elizabeth Fry Society executive director Debbie Carriere.

Under the pilot project, local non-profit organization Right to Heal will receive the funding to expand their services in the Peterborough area over a 16-month period. The organization will use the Redpath addiction treatment programs from Peterborough’s Whitepath Consulting, a social enterprise Shaughnessy founded in 2002 to help anyone affected by addictions, mental health, abuse, and bullying.

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“Individuals with addictions more often than not develop addictions by using substances to either feel something or numb something,” MPP Smith says in a media release. “The root cause is almost always trauma — whether it’s from abuse, mental health challenges, or pain. If we are truly going to address the mental health and addictions crisis, a wide variety of treatments options need to exist locally.”

Clients referred to the pilot project will typically be homeless, at risk of homelessness, living with mental health or addictions issues and trauma, or disconnected from appropriate services. The Elizabeth Fry Society will administer the client referral process.

“We have had the opportunity to connect clients to the program and are witnessing firsthand the impact Redpath has,” Carriere says. “We at Elizabeth Fry can see this program coming alive through our referrals from various connections within the health care and criminal justice sectors. As someone who has completed this program myself, I can truly speak to the excellent opportunity this is bringing to our community for healing.”

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The primary target population for the pilot project will be clients referred by Peterborough police, Peterborough County-City Paramedics, and Peterborough Regional Health Centre who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing opioid overdoses.

The secondary target population will be clients referred from health and social services such as the Opioid Response Hub and Consumption and Treatment Services Site, Brock Mission, Cameron House, and One Roof Community Centre. The project will also accept family and self-referrals.

“The Right to Heal pilot program will turn many lives around, reducing homelessness, addiction, crime, and overdose deaths in our community,” MPP Smith says.

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With the provincial funding, Right to Heal will have the capacity to address the needs of 320 people in the community.

Once referred to the program, clients will undergo a rigorous and evidence-based assessment to determine the correct treatment for their unique needs, considering factors including backgrounds of trauma, abuse, domestic violence, housing status, financial situation, and level of substance abuse.

Once the assessment is complete, clients enter into one-on-one counselling or the Redpath intervention program or both. Through 21 three-hour counselling and training sessions, the Redpath program uses psychology-based methods to identify the reasons behind substance abuse and helps a person develop the social, emotional, and practical skills to move beyond addiction.

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Clients will then enter an after-care program, requiring two hours every week for group training sessions focusing on personal development and fully reintegrating the clients back into society.

“This announcement comes to almost the day of our 20th anniversary of Whitepath Consulting,” Shaughnessy says. “We have been delivering addiction and mental health services across Canada and beyond during this time and have developed great partnerships with many organizations within the city and surrounding areas.”

“With the recent announcement regarding the Consumption and Treatment Services (site) funding, this funding will help expand addiction treatment services in our area and allow funding for the Redpath program that has shown great success in other areas,” she added, thanking MPP Smith for his support and efforts in securing funding.

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