NDP slams B.C. Liberals for recovery house scandal | National Union of Public and General Employees

NDP slams B.C. Liberals for recovery house scandal

Campbell government deregulated recovery homes in British Columbia after winning power seven years ago.

Victoria (6 March 2009) - The New Democratic Party is demanding that B.C.'s Liberal government fix a problem it created seven years ago by deregulating the operation of recovery homes in the province.

The issue was raised in the legislature by NDP Leader Carole James following a CBC report that dozens of unregulated operators are taking social assistance cheques from drug addicts in exchange for often unsafe, unsanitary, unsupervised and overcrowded accommodations.

Recovery homes were regulated under the former NDP government between 1998 and 2002 but all regulation was scrapped when the government of Premier Gordon Campbell came to power in 2002.

George Abbott, Campbell's current health minister, now says he is moving to re-regulate recovery homes and hopes to make an announcement later in the year.

The CBC found that more than 100 Lower Mainland homes have been turned into rooming houses for alcoholics and addicts seeking recovery.

Typically, private organizations rent inexpensive — often substandard — homes in suburban neighbourhoods and then rent out space to recovering addicts and alcoholics who agree to sign over their welfare cheques to guarantee monthly payments.

Once the arrangement is in place, the CBC found, residents are often left to run the homes on their own with few resources and little or no direct supervision.

"Why are communities still waiting for the B.C. Liberals to fix a problem that they created?" James asked the premier in the legislature. "What was he thinking? Was he thinking about the betrayal of the people that he said he was going to defend?"

Abbott said the controversy is obscuring the fact that many of the homes are operating successfully despite the existence of "some bad apples."

He has not announced a date to put new regulations in place. "It is a relatively complex process to put that licensing in place," he added.

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