Largest addictions treatment facility in Sask. to open near Lumsden

Don Healy/Regina Leader-Post. St. Michael's Retreat and Conference Centre in Lumsden, SK on November 5, 2015.

The new 60-bed in-patient addictions treatment facility will be established at the former Living Skies Retreat & Conference Centre near Lumsden.

Angela Amato, Regina Leader-Post

The provincial government has announced a new 60-bed in-patient addictions treatment facility located at a former conference centre just outside of Lumsden.

Soon to be the largest addictions treatment facility in Saskatchewan, patients 18 and older will be provided with “holistic, wraparound in-patient addictions treatment for up to 16 weeks,” said a news release from the province issued Thursday.

The facility will be operated by EHN Canada through the publicly funded health care system. EHN is an addictions treatment provider that has operated in Canada for decades and specializes in the treatment of all types of addictions and related mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“EHN Canada’s commitment to clinical excellence is at the forefront of this initiative,” Dr. Christina Basedow, EHN national operations vice-president, said in the release. “The facility in Lumsden will be staffed by a team of highly-skilled professionals dedicated to providing the latest evidence-based treatments. We aim to offer Saskatchewan residents the highest quality care and support in their pursuit of addiction recovery and concurrent mental health treatment.”

Executive director of AIDS Program South Saskatchewan (APSS) Shiny Mary Varghese says that she’s happy to hear a new facility is opening, adding that it is “much needed.”

“It’s definitely required in Saskatchewan,” said Varghese in an interview Thursday.

APSS is a harm reduction organization that works to prevent the transmission of HIV, hepatitis C and STIs, as well as prevent drug toxicity, hospitalization and death among drug users. Varghese said that in 2022, they saw about 17 new people coming to their needle exchange program nearly every week. Just one indication of how much more prevalent drug use is.

“The numbers are growing and it’s becoming more widespread as people experiment for whatever reason,” said Varghese. “So it’s definitely required in Saskatchewan and it needs a lot more compassion as well as empathy for people who are using substances.”

Varghese says that APSS will sometimes work with treatment facilities to help patients find housing following their treatment and make recommendations to clients that might be looking to receive help with their addiction.

“We’re about meeting people where they’re at,” she said.

“A key to successful addictions treatment is providing the right supports for people when they want them and are ready for them,” SHA mental health and addictions executive director Colleen Quinlan said the release. “This facility will provide the capacity to provide treatment in a timely and specialized manner in an inspiringly picturesque location.”

The facility, located approximately 34 kilometres northwest of Regina, was the former site of the Living Skies Retreat and Conference Centre near Lumsden. It was also the former St. Michael’s Retreat site that was established in 1963 by the Franciscan Friars of Western Canada. The building will undergo minor renovation by EHN in the coming weeks with plans to open in the spring.

“The Government of Saskatchewan is focused on getting people the treatment that they need to overcome addictions and live healthy lives in recovery,” Mental Health and Addictions Minister Tim McLeod said the province’s release. “Doubling the number of addictions treatment spaces across the province is a key pillar of Saskatchewan’s new Action Plan for Mental Health and Addictions.”

The new facility near Lumsden will bring the total number of addictions treatment spaces that have been announced under Saskatchewan’s Action Plan for Mental Health and Addictions to 168. This includes 26 post-treatment spaces at St. Joseph’s Addiction Recovery Centre in Estevan, 32 intensive outpatient treatment spaces through Possibilities Recovery Centre in Saskatoon, 14 in-patient addictions treatment spaces at the former Drumming Hill Youth Centre facility in North Battleford, and 36 virtual spaces through EHN Canada.