Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli is weighing in on a campaign by hospital workers at the North Bay Regional Health Centre to save 29 addictions beds.

The workers wore black and yellow stickers on Tuesday asking the Ford government not to close the beds this spring.

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions says replacing the in-hospital addiction services with an out-patient program is likely to fail.

However, Fedeli says that a recent Mayor’s roundtable in North Bay saw stakeholders support a centralized mental health and addictions operation.

“This is exactly what we are delivering with this transfer of funding,” Fedeli said in a statement.

“The new community addiction services will help more people access help.

Fedeli says any suggestion by the hospital union group or CUPE “to the contrary is simply dishonest and shameful”.

Fedeli says the redirected funding will create what is called a Transitional Housing and Crisis Stabilization Centre that includes safe beds, an emergency shelter, warming centre and transitional housing.

He adds the facility will let social services and mental health and addictions providers “to stabilize the clients and provide accessible housing”.

Fedeli says The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and CUPE are being irresponsible with their words and Tuesday’s actions.

He says they are fear-mongering and using politically-motivated rhetoric to achieve their own ends.

Fedeli says the reality is the Ford government is investing a “historic $3.8 billion over the next 10 years to build a comprehensive, integrated and connected mental health and addictions system”.

Fedeli is getting support for his position from key members of the community.

Officials connected with the Mayor’s Roundtable on Mental Health and Addictions say while residential treatment is effective for people who need it, it’s not the best treatment for everyone.

That’s because people who enter the residential program need to get a leave of absence from their employer, they may have to provide for child care while they are taking part in the in-residence program and if they own a home or pay rent, they face the issue of how to continue payments if they have a leave of absence from their job.

Additionally, individuals have to make plans for up to six months to be part of the residential treatment program.

It’s for reasons like this that the Mayor’s Roundtable says “these barriers alone make residential treatment inaccessible for most citizens.”

However, despite the closure of the 29 beds at the hospital, the community won’t entirely be without a residential program.

The North Bay Recovery Home will still have 22 beds for treatment and Executive Director Wendy Pireur says if people can be helped with an addictions day or evening program, it frees up beds at the recovery home for people in need of residential treatment.

The Mayor’s Roundtable found that North Bay has a surplus of residential treatment beds while at the same time the city is experiencing a lack of other services.

The transitional housing and stabilization centre is scheduled to open this summer.