Yvonne Jones, MHA for Cartwright-L’Anse Au Clair and Opposition Health and
Community Services Critic, says government’s negligence in addressing the
significant shortfalls of the methadone treatment program is disturbing and
she is again challenging government to boost services and resources at the
The Eastern Methadone Clinic was established in 2005 as an interim
measure to help address the considerable prescription drug abuse problems
that were identified in a 2004 OxyContin Task Force report.
Since then, the clinic has experienced a large waiting list. The Liberal MHA
has called upon the Minister of Health in the House of Assembly on several
occasions to tackle this serious deficiency of the province’s health care.
"This government has been notably incompetent right from the start on
this matter," stated Jones. "Initially, they underestimated the amount of
clients that would require these services, which immediately led to a
lengthy waiting list. They also failed to add the type of services such as
counselling, a central pharmacy and urine analysis which would have resulted
in a more comprehensive and thus, a more effective treatment program.
"When questioned in the House of Assembly earlier this year, the minister
stated that he was aware of the serious problems and that his government
would be addressing them. The only forward movement on this issue has been
the allocation of four nursing positions announced in this year’s budget and
these staff will not start work at the clinic until July. This does not come
close to addressing the overall problem."
The Opposition critic says the inadequacy of the program and the abysmal
inaction by government were once again highlighted just last week when one
of the two physicians working at the clinic quit out of frustration at
government’s indifference to the program’s challenges.
"If government assumes their unwillingness to address this issue is
acceptable, I can assure them that it is anything but adequate. Not only are
those who require this service being shamefully shortchanged, but the
communities at large are being placed at risk from the associated crime rate
rises, as addiction problems are not managed properly. Ironically, this
government committed to a full methadone clinic a year ago. This serious
healthcare shortfall illustrates that the only repeat prescription this
government appears able to fill is in not fulfilling its commitments."