Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jan 2007
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2007 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Pamela Cowan, The Leader-Post


The recent Kim Walker murder trial in Yorkton raised fresh concerns 
about an old problem -- drug addiction's hold on some of the 
province's residents.

Walker was convicted of second-degree murder on Friday after he was 
found guilty of shooting James Hayward, his addicted daughter's 
drug-dealing boyfriend in March 2003.

The Walker and Hayward families are among many residents who have 
felt the ripple effect of addictions.

"Tragically, thousands of lives are damaged in Saskatchewan every 
year due to substance abuse," said Premier Lorne Calvert when he 
unveiled Project Hope in August 2005.

 From the time of its launch, the new program was to implement 
additional supports to improve treatment for substance abuse over its 
first three years. Supports include developing a 12-bed youth 
stabilization unit in Saskatoon, a 15-bed inpatient residential youth 
treatment facility in Prince Albert and 12 brief detox beds in 
Regina, as well as developing outreach centres in Saskatoon and 
Prince Albert and expanding existing outreach services in North 
Battleford and Regina.

"We're well on our way to implementing a lot of the initiatives that 
were announced," said Karen Gibbons, Saskatchewan Health's director 
of program support for mental health and addictions.

Six interim youth stabilization beds in Saskatoon became operational 
in February.

"That's for youth who are significantly involved in drug abuse -- 
it's one step up from detox," Gibbons said. "Then we have the secure 
youth detox facility in Regina, which has six beds. There were no 
beds in Regina prior to Project Hope that were exclusively for youths."

Most of the outreach workers have been hired.

"We have been negotiating a youth treatment centre in Prince Albert 
and we have an interim facility that's been open and running since 
April so we have six more treatment beds for youth in the Prince 
Albert area," Gibbons said.

During the high-profile trial in Yorkton last week, the defence 
portrayed Walker as a father who was desperate to rescue his daughter 
from a drug addiction.

Concerned about their daughter's behaviour and health for months, the 
Walkers got a Mental Health Services Act warrant from a provincial 
court judge to commit her to Yorkton's psychiatric ward for a weekend 
assessment. On the Monday, 16-year-old Jadah was released and 
reunited with Hayward.

At that time, a person could be held for only 72 hours unless the 
criteria for involuntary treatment under the Mental Health Services 
Act was met. Jadah didn't meet the criteria so she was released.

The Secure Youth Drug Detox legislation that came into effect on 
April 1 allows an individual, between 12 and 17, to be detained for 
up to five days in a secure detox facility for detoxification and 

"We've had about 103 people go through the facility since that time," 
Gibbons said.

Two physicians assess whether a youth with a severe drug addiction is 
likely to harm himself or others or will suffer substantial mental or 
physical deterioration. The person's ability to make an informed 
decision about the need to detoxify or his willingness to start the 
process is also assessed. The detention order can be renewed twice up 
to a maximum of 15 days.

"An individual can go in more than once but you'd have to meet the 
criteria every time," Gibbons said.
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