03/16/2015 08:41 EDT | Updated 05/16/2015 05:59 EDT

Keremeos youth treatment centre closure leaves gap

The sudden closure of a youth addictions treatment centre in Keremeos means adolescents who require services may now have to head to facilities that are farther away from their families, says the centre's vice-chair.

The Crossing, a 42-bed facility that opened in 2009, and was run by the non-profit organization Portage, closed Mar. 5.

It provided shelter and assistance for up to a year to youth between the ages of 14 and 18  trying to overcome substance abuse.

The Crossing's vice-chair Dr. Richard Hooper says the closure happened because Portage couldn't get a long-term funding commitment from the Provincial Health Services Authority.

"For years, British Columbia was flying the youth of this province back east to get their treatment," said Hooper in an interview with Daybreak South.  

"We were finally, with the creation of this centre in Keremeos, able to do it here in British Columbia — truly putting families first, so families could remain nearby their children getting treatment."

Hooper says The Crossing was the only program of its type for youth in B.C., and it had an 80 per cent success rate. Now, youth may have to head to facilities in Prince George or Metro Vancouver to access treatment.

Standards of care in question

The Provincial Health Services Authority says The Crossing closed following issues with staff qualifications and non-compliance with residential and community care legislation.

"Our biggest concerns are safety for the youth at the site," said Connie Coniglio, provincial executive director of children and women's mental health and substance use programs.

"We have been working directly with the Portage representatives to ensure the site meets standards in British Columbia, meets the needs of youth in British Columbia."

"We worked hard on that together, in good faith together, and in the end, Portage made a decision to terminate with us after a long conversation over a long period of time."

To hear the full interview with Richard Hooper and Connie Coniglio, click on the audio labelled: Closure of Keremeos youth treatment centre leaves gap