Native Council of PEI battles to keep drug counselling program
Federal and provincial governments pulled $84K in funding for the 30-year-old program in October
The Native Council of PEI is fighting to keep its alcohol and drug counselling program that it has run for 30 years.
The Harper government announced it was cancelling funding for the program in October, and the province followed suit, meaning a total loss of $84,000 dollars.
We're looking at 12- 13-year-old girls, boys, who are injecting before class.- Lynn Bradley, addiction support worker
About 120 off-reserve First Nations people accessed the service in the final few months it was offered, said the council.
Lynn Bradley, the addiction support worker, said the program is more successful for clients than non-native counselling because it's culturally specific.
She said there is definitely a need for the program.
"Right now we're looking at an opioid epidemic and it's huge," said Bradley.
'Why would our program be cut?'
"Alcohol seems to be a thing of the past, now it just seems to be more prescription drug use. We're looking at 12- 13-year-old girls, boys, who are injecting before class."
Native Council president and chief Lisa Cooper is lobbying to see the funding restored to the program.
"So I don't understand, in light of P.E.I. having an epidemic to addictions, why would our program be cut?" said Cooper.
"Because that was part of the recommendations of mental health and addictions report, as well as the Truth and Reconciliation [Commission], which says off-reserve are marginalized, so cutting our program you're leaving people without funding or without even a program to even access."
CBC News is waiting to hear from the new federal government on the decision.
The premier's office said it is in discussions with the council how to continue the work it's been doing and is expecting a proposal from the group.