The following is an op-ed by Dr. Rolando Barrios and Joanne Bezzubetz
In recent days there has been public commentary and outright misinformation about the fate of the Rainier Hotel, a women-only addiction treatment centre located in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Much of the discussion has focused on the end of funding by Health Canada, and whether, in light of this, Vancouver Coastal Health is making the future of this facility's clients an uncertain one.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let's start with some background. The Rainier Women's Treatment Program, known as the Rainier, opened as a pilot project in the summer of 2009 as an innovative approach to treating addiction among marginalized women in this community. These are women in the midst of leaving the sex trade. Their lives are hard. They struggle with serious physical, mental health and addiction problems. And at the time, there were very limited DTES treatment programs exclusively for women. Health Canada, through its Drug Treatment Program, provided $4.9 million in operating funds to the project. The provincial government provided $9.5 million for the purchase and renovation of this 43-unit single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel through the Provincial Homelessness Initiative. The Portland Hotel Society, which manages housing and other facilities in the DTES, was brought in to operate the Rainier. Health Canada has always made it clear that this was a pilot project with an end date of November, 2012.