Addicts to get government help

Government addicts to get help Among the more unusual items in Yukon's 2009 budget is $341,000 to be spent over three years on helping government workers struggling with substance abuse.

Among the more unusual items in Yukon’s 2009 budget is $341,000 to be spent over three years on helping government workers struggling with substance abuse.

“Under human rights legislation, addiction is a disability,” said Liz McKee, spokesperson for the Public Service Commission.

“That means any employer, yours, mine or anyone else’s in the public or private sector, has a responsibility to accommodate employees with a disability,” she said.

The government offered a pilot program in 2007 that took in 12 employees. In 2008 the program took in another seven workers.

The new money is enough to cover 20 employees per year, said McKee.

Treatment usually begins with a trip to Vancouver to be assessed by Dr. Ray Baker of HealthQuest Occasional Health Corp., who has practiced addictions medicine for 17 years.

“He consults a lot on this,” said McKee.

That’s followed by a treatment program and continued counselling.

Employees enrolled in the program usually disclose their own addictions, said McKee.

Or, “if there are apparent lapses of performance on the job, a human resource processes can kick in.”