The Department of Health and Wellness has confirmed that Talbot House, an addictions centre for men that shut down last year in Cape Breton, will once again operate as an addiction recovery centre.
Dave Wilson said the centre in Frenchvale will welcome residents as early as April.
"The province is pleased to announce that Talbot House was the successful bidder for the recovery house in Cape Breton. So in this case the province took the time it needed to make sure the appropriate and I think the suitable solution was in place for a recovery house in Cape Breton," he told CBC News.
"We're happy to finally have this resolution to this issue. I know a lot of Cape Bretoners have been waiting for this announcement."
The Nova Scotia government will finance the operation of Talbot House with an investment of $392,000 to operate the independent, non-profit facility, which is overseen by a board of directors. It provides housing and support for up to 21 men recovering from addiction.
That's a big change from the province's previous position on the facility.
It shut down Talbot House last March after allegations were made against Rev. Paul Abbass, the executive director of the facility. He resigned from his position and a subsequent police investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing and Abbass was reinstated.
There was also a government review which concluded the centre was not following proper procedures.
Wilson said some improvements were needed in areas such as staff training and accountability and the province and the board of Talbot House have worked together to resolve those problems.
"There were some issues that I think we've worked extremely hard on," he said.
"The province has the utmost confidence in the Talbot House board and its ability to run a quality recovery house to the standards set by the province."
'It's been our dream'
Abbass told CBC News he was looking forward to returning to his job as executive director.
"It's been our dream since all of this began. At times it seemed like that was going to happen and there were other times during this past year when we began to wonder whether it was going to happen," he said Wednesday.
"The news today is really exciting. I would say it's the first time I've really been excited in the past year."
Wilson said the province will not alter Talbot House's use of the abstinence model — that means the centre does not accept people in the methadone recovery program.
"I know there's always been this thing out there that we're going to require them to take methadone patients. I've said since the day I've taken over this file that that's not the case," he said.
"We respect and understand that there are different models of care out there. That's the important thing — to have options for Nova Scotians. We support what Talbot House is doing."
Dr. John Gainer, the chair of the board, expressed his gratitude for all the community support Talbot House has received.
"The board also appreciates the opportunity to renew relationships with the Department of Health and Wellness and the Cape Breton District Health Authority and benefit from their expertise and commitment to address the complex needs of addicted individuals," Gainer said in a statement.