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Health Authority to shutter Rainier Hotel treatment program

The Rainier Hotel in Vancouver is seen in a July 2011 file photo.

JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail

A community group and Vancouver Coastal Health are at odds over funding and services at the Rainier Hotel in the Downtown Eastside.

The Portland Hotel Society, which runs the the single-room-occupancy hotel, says the end of a federally funded on-site treatment program this month has left vulnerable women without services, including vocational counselling.

Vancouver Coastal Health, however, says the treatment program was not intended to run indefinitely and that the health authority is working on an orderly transition.

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"We looked at the benefits [of the program], and the main ones are the safe, stable housing ... and the in-reach health care, where we go inside the facility with doctors and nurses. And those are continuing," Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Anna Marie D'Angelo said on Tuesday.

"Nobody is turning their backs on the women and to even suggest that is very misleading."

PHS, which runs several housing projects in the Downtown Eastside, has launched a campaign to salvage the program as it has operated for the past few years. On Tuesday, protesters gathered in front of Premier Christy Clark's office to voice their support for continued funding.

Without the funding, the Rainier will revert to a basic SRO and the neighbourhood will lose its only residential treatment centre for women, PHS spokesman Mark Townsend said.

Launched in 2009, the Rainier Treatment Program was a $1.9-million a year, four-year study funded by Health Canada, Ms. D'Angelo said. As part of that program, PHS had a contract worth $750,000 a year to provide services, including yoga, meditation and writing workshops. With the end of the federal program, and Vancouver Coastal Health declining to foot the bill, those services ended this month.

The province provided $9.5-million to buy and renovate the Rainier Hotel in 2009.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Wendy Stueck has covered technology and business and now reports on British Columbia issues including natural resources, aboriginal issues and urban affairs. More

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