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Civil liberties group deplores closure of treatment facility for young female addicts

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The BCCLA is dismayed to learn that the Campbell Valley Women’s Centre, the only intensive residential treatment facility for young women addicted to drugs and alcohol in British Columbia, will close on March 31, 2002 due to the refusal of the provincial government to provide the funding necessary to keep it operating. This is in the face of the recent coroner’s inquest into the death of 20 year old Christina Constible, in which the jury recommended the creation of more short and long term residential detox and treatment beds for addicted youth.

The Centre treats high risk, high need young women between the ages of 13 and 18. 80% of these young women have a history of sexual abuse. 60% admit to having been sexually exploited in sex trade work. The majority of those over 16 have a history of injection cocaine and heroin use.

80% of the Centre’s clients are there as a result of criminal diversion or probation sentences. The provincial government has refused to allocate any further dollars to funding the treatment of such young women at the Centre, with the result that the Centre is being forced to close.

The BCCLA firmly believes that the province’s resources would be far better spent on ensuring that there are appropriate treatment facilities available to those who are addicted to drugs than on the enforcement of antiquated and detrimental criminal drug laws. There can be no group for whom that is more true than young, at risk women, the majority of whom have already been forced into child prostitution to support themselves.

As John Dixon, President of the BCCLA says, “With 50 women missing from the Downtown Eastside, the vast majority of whom were drug addicted sex trade workers, this decision is disastrous in our efforts to help young women overcome their addictions and the dangerous behaviours those addictions cause. We must do everything possible to help such young women avoid becoming another grim statistic in the annals of the Downtown Eastside.”

The BCCLA calls on the provincial government to rethink its shortsighted decision and provide the funding necessary to keep the Campbell Valley Women’s Centre operating. Individuals should contact the Honourable Gordon Hogg, Minister of Children and Family Development, Telephone: 250 387-9699, Fax: 250 387-9722, to register their objections.