New Brunswick

New Brunswick's promise of 50 new rehab beds urgently needed, advocate says

The New Brunswick government is searching for a location for a new treatment facility as part of plans to double its capacity and address a growing drug addiction crisis.

Province considering potential locations for long-term addiction treatment facility

New Brunswick cities have seen a rise in the number of people experiencing drug addiction in recent years. (CBC)

The New Brunswick government is searching for a location for a new treatment facility as part of plans to double its capacity and address a growing drug addiction crisis.

In his state of the province address, Premier Blaine Higgs promised an additional 50 beds for treatment for adults, arguing addiction is one of the root causes of a growing homelessness crisis.

Advocates for those struggling with addiction say those spots are desperately needed as New Brunswick cities see a rise in visible substance use, overdose calls and drug-related deaths.

The province's proportion of fentanyl-related deaths increased to an all-time high in 2023, according to data from coroner investigations.

New Brunswick has two sites offering residential addictions treatment including the Centre for Hope and Harmony in Campbellton and the Horizon Recovery Centre in Saint John, pictured here. (CBC)

Debby Warren, executive director of Ensemble Moncton, said many of her clients have been waiting for years for access to services, including treatment and housing. She said the expansion is a welcome step forward in addressing the crisis.

"It's 50 more beds that we don't have right now. We're desperate for a variety of options for people for treatment," she said.

"We really have to ramp up what we do."

Treatment for up to 140 people a year 

Higgs said the province will be rolling out a new program that offers four to six months of treatment, which over the long-term will treat 100 to 140 individuals each year depending on length of stay.

"Our goal is to help individuals re-establish ties with their families and provide social integration, skills and tools to help them cope with everyday life," he said.

Sean Hatchard, a spokesperson for the Department of Health, said the province expects to share details on its plans in the near future.

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Debby Warren, executive director of Ensemble Moncton, says her clients need 'a continuum of care' to recover from their addictions.

"The provincial government continues to explore potential locations and options to accommodate a 50-bed rehabilitation treatment facility for those struggling with substance use disorders," Hatchard said in an email.

Hatchard did not answer a question about the planned timeline for the opening of a new facility.

New Brunswick currently offers addiction treatment services through several facilities around the province.

man sitting on the sidewalk next to a shopping cart
Many people living on the streets gather at Ensemble Moncton because they have been kicked out of shelters due to mental health and addiction challenges, says the charity's executive director Debby Warren. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)

The Vitalité Health Network has 18 beds at its Centre for Hope and Harmony in Campbellton, where it provides personalized residential services for a stay of 30 to 90 days.

In 2018, the centre switched from a 21-day program to the longer live-in model.

A Vitalité spokesperson said more than 40 people are being referred every three months, with a current wait time of eight months. An additional six beds were added in 2023, which reduced the wait by three months.

The Horizon Health Network operates a residential recovery centre in Saint John, which can accommodate up to 14 people.

Both health networks also offer detox services and out-patient recovery options. 

Need for 'holistic recovery'

Warren said the province has a variety of beneficial services to help people with recovery, but she said the capacity is limited.

an exterior photo of a sand-coloured health facility with brick around the bottom half of the building. There is also a Horizon Health Network sign on the lawn in front of the building, with a New Brunswick flag and Canadian flag flying above and either side of the sign.
Moncton's detox centre is the place where many people go to start their journey to recovery. Debby Warren says many of her clients have nowhere to turn for help once they get out of the facility. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

"We need to be able to have a continuum of care. So if someone goes into detox, is there a treatment facility for them to go into immediately? No," she said.

Warren said around 300 individuals regularly access Ensemble Moncton's supervised injection site. She said most are homeless and have complex needs beyond accessing treatment for their addictions.

"Most people aren't even on the waitlist. They've given up hope, they've been waiting for years, they've been waiting for just basic housing for so long, that they don't even hold any hope of getting into treatment," she said.

Woman with grey hair in living room
Debby Warren, executive director of Ensemble, says a 'holistic recovery centre' would complement the addition of 50 new addiction treatment beds. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)

In addition to a treatment centre, Warren would like to see a "holistic recovery centre" as a next step for people in their journey to recovery.

It would be a place where someone receives longer-term support, initial transitional housing, mental health services and employment skills. The concept is based on similar centres in British Columbia.

"We will see some long-term benefits, not only for the individual, but for the community," Warren said. "We welcome the 50 beds, but we really see the need for a holistic recovery centre."


Alexandre Silberman

Video journalist

Alexandre Silberman is a video journalist with CBC News based in Moncton. He has previously worked at CBC Fredericton, Power & Politics, and Marketplace. You can reach him by email at: