I think what's important is that we should acknowledge the role of the Health Canada's emergency treatment fund bilateral agreements that have been struck, the funding that we have received within the province and the way that it's been utilized to improve the quality of care to address some of the surge issues that we've seen with methamphetamine. Unfortunately, at a provincial level, it doesn't translate into boots on the ground in terms of health care providers. We have to look to the province for that.
What we do need, though, is to look at ways that people transition. What we have is essentially a chronic disease at a severe level. Our system treats it with episodic acute care, a little bit of detox here and maybe 28 days of treatment there. They're not necessarily well connected; they're disjointed.
I think something that would greatly help us is the federal government being more involved in therapeutic or supportive housing for people who can be housed in a therapeutic community, or supportive community between detox and treatment, and from treatment out into more of a recovery mode. They would have other wraparound services, social services for income support, transition to other housing, education, vocational training and so on, which are not necessarily in the purview of the federal government. We could find ways to target federal funds towards therapeutic housing to close the gaps, because recovery takes one to two years. Episodic acute care is not going to meet that need, but therapeutic housing may very well.
Where can we look for that? Certainly there are a number of ways that we could approach this. Perhaps there are ways to use tax benefits to get the philanthropic sector, the private sector and the public health care sector working together in partnership, in a 4P approach, if you will, so that this money can be used to support programs that normally would not be provided by the health sector alone. That includes housing and wraparound services.
Another way would be looking at how people donate or how philanthropists may come forward with money. Often it's a one-time example of their largesse, but, if there's a social impact that benefits the system of care, which is going to save money in terms of acute care and other health care costs, perhaps that could be recognized in terms of a social impact benefit of charitable donations, which increases the value or has a way of recycling it, so instead of once-only funding, we have a way of continuing to recycle that charitable sector funding.
Housing that's dedicated to this would be helpful. We can do that by enabling developers to dedicate an apartment building to drug and alcohol-free living space with support from the health care sector to create those therapeutic communities we need in order for people to recover.
I think we should also be looking at transitions from where people congregate, such as emergency departments. Rapid access to addiction medicine would help to get them stabilized, back out in the community and connected with community care. That sort of transition is important, but it's often not done efficiently.
The other area of congregation, however, is in our correctional system, in our jails. In Saskatchewan, 70% of the people in provincial corrections are there because of drug and alcohol problems. It's not a therapeutic environment. There are ways that we could enhance drug courts to look at more focused intervention, recognizing that a crime has been committed—or potentially, if they're only on remand—but also recognizing that there are ways that we can use this sector more therapeutically to get to the root cause of the crime and the problems in our community.
Is this something where we can use some diversion from correction money, from penitentiary money, into the health care sector, into the mental health and addiction sector, to increase the services? All too often these are court ordered, but the health care system doesn't have the capacity to deliver in a way that's going to have a sustainable impact over time and is going to prevent re-incarceration.
Finally, one other source would be the proceeds of crime. It's great that it goes to the police, but if this is related to mental health and addiction issues—and the majority of crime is related to mental health and addictions—we need more social work and police teams working in our communities to be more proactive to address some of these issues. We need targeted funding for treatment and intervention, as I described previously.
I'm trying to think of ways that the federal government could be involved in providing targeted funding through taxation, through charitable donations, through housing, through proceeds of crime, which could help us address this significant gap in terms of the continuity of care, the care that goes from harm reduction—which from a treatment perspective, is outreach and engagement—through detox as indicated, into treatment and transitioning on into recovery.
The best way to prevent this intergenerational transmission of addiction is through treatment and helping people to transition to recovery and become productive citizens. It can be done. It's frequently done, but often it's in spite of us, not because of us.