File photo The Ashnola at the Crossing addiction treatment facility has helped 71 clients since it reopened about a year ago.

Housing crunch impacts staffing levels at provincial addiction centre near Keremeos

Beds sitting empty at provincial treatment centre largely due to lack of housing options for staff

  • Mar. 15, 2018 8:00 a.m.

In the midst of an opiate overdose crisis, beds are sitting empty at a provincially funded residential addictions facility near Keremeos and one of the main reasons is a shortage in housing in the area for staff.

Dr. Connie Coniglio from Provincial Health Services Authority oversees Ashnola at the Crossing, a residential addiction facility for young adults aged 17 to 24. She said recruiting staff to the remote facility has always been difficult, but with the addition of a housing shortage it’s even more challenging.

“There isn’t any on-site housing at Ashnola unfortunately, partly that has to do with licensing and it’s difficult for people to do that kind of work and also live on-site. Housing is definitely a factor when we’re recruiting and that’s true everywhere in B.C,” she said. “There’s a limited number of housing options in that area. In the summer it’s OK to drive but in the winter it’s a different story.”

Since the facility opened last year, the maximum number of beds it’s been able to operate is 18, but when at full compliment of staff the facility has a licensing maximum of 22 beds. The facility is operated in partnership with Central City Foundation, which owns the property and leases it to the province for free.

When it first opened in March, the facility was running with a low number of clients to ensure a smooth transition under its new operator Vancouver-based Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS). Coniglio said by mid-summer, after upgrades and safety initiatives were complete, 18 beds were filled and that has remained steady.

As of late last week, there were 15 young adults who met criteria on the wait list to get into Ashnola at the Crossing, but Coniglio said there were many more throughout the province needing help.

“It’s really about making sure we have the staff to make it safe to fill the beds. I’ve worked with them (PCRS) pretty closely and I know they are working hard to fill positions. We all understand how important it is to keep those beds filled especially given the concerns of opioids,” she said.

PCRS was chosen as the operator of the facility in 2016 after an in-depth request for proposals process. The previous operator Quebec-based Portage abruptly pulled out from operating the facility in March 2015. After the company’s departure issues around properly trained staff at the facility and budget concerns surfaced.

PCRS is currently recruiting inside and outside of B.C. Many of the 30 full and part-time positions at Ashnola at the Crossing have been filled, some by local people, but Coniglio said some positions have high educational requirements.

“Some require a masters’ degree in counselling for example or a high level of addictions training. There just isn’t tonnes of people around in the area that have that kind of background,” she said.

Currently the facility is hiring for a clinical position, on-call admin staff, on-call residential addiction worker and a transportation worker.

Despite challenges recruiting staff, there are no plans to relocate the addiction treatment facility to a more populated area with a larger employee pool.

“Clients and people that go up there 100 per cent would say it’s a therapeutic environment. There’s beauty all around and there’s access to the outdoors, quiet and tranquil and that offers a great environment to be in,” she said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Purchase of Francophone school brings with it “sense of belonging” say parents

École Entre-lacs now has a permanent home in Penticton thanks to the provincial government

Penticton’s Slackwater Brewing to host Australian bushfire fundraiser

Money raised at Australia day party goes directly to Victoria Bushfire Relief Fund

COLUMN: Pre-clearance changes at Canadian airports

Some believe these expanded powers may be contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Successful Canadian Sport School coming to Penticton

A meeting is planned for February about Canadian Sport School - Penticton

Peachfest announces 2020 headliners

Glass Tiger and Honeymoon Suite back featuring large in the list of headliners.

VIDEO: WHO says China virus not global health emergency

The decision came after Chinese authorities moved to lock down three cities on Thursday

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Big White warns skiers to avoid tree wells after two fatalities at other resorts

Tree wells form when low branches at the base of coniferous trees stop snow from settling at trunk

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Interior Health issues drug alert in Kamloops

Testing of two samples of drugs sold as crystal meth was positive for fentanyl

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

B.C. still struggling to control non-resident medical care fraud

Unpaid bills, out-of-province claimants a costly legacy of MSP

Most Read