Improved Withdrawal Management Services for Sarnia-Lambton

Tuesday, January 5, 2021 - 9:18am

Bluewater Health to open temporary 12-bed phase II withdrawal management facility in community

SARNIA, ON – January 5, 2021 – Today, during a virtual event, Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Bluewater Health announced the opening of a phase II residential withdrawal management service for Sarnia-Lambton. This service is a home-like setting intended to support people beyond the current seven-bed unit.

“This is great news for Sarnia-Lambton, particularly as we are seeing an increase in the number of people in our community who need support,” said Paula Reaume-Zimmer, Vice-President, Mental Health & Addictions, Bluewater Health. “I am grateful that Queen’s Park understands that we needed additional resources to meet the increasingly complex needs of people living with addiction in Sarnia-Lambton.”

Demand for local residential withdrawal management services has outstripped the capacity of Bluewater Health’s current seven-bed unit. In the month of December alone, 93 requests for withdrawal management beds were declined due to lack of space. 

Phase II includes the operation of stabilization and transitional beds. This new service adds 12 more addiction support beds to Sarnia-Lambton. This almost triples the current capacity, and allows Bluewater Health to support a greater number of people in need. It will serve as a much needed stop-gap while the hospital awaits approval of a final, permanent addiction centre that includes a 24-bed withdrawal management facility. 

“Our government knows that you simply cannot have health without mental health,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Through this investment, our government is proud to be making it easier for people and families in Sarnia-Lambton to access the high-quality care they expect and deserve, when and where they need it. By working closely with our partners, including Bluewater Health, our government will continue fulfilling on our commitment to creating a mental health and addictions system where every Ontarian is fully supported in their journey towards mental wellness.”

Bluewater Health will continue to operate its seven-bed unit for clients undergoing the immediate withdrawal process, with the new 12-bed facility offering a phase II, or stabilization and transitional phase. The program will provide 24/7 supervision and programming to effectively bridge the client’s withdrawal management plan into safe and affordable housing or longer-term treatment programs. 
During the first wave of COVID-19, a property on Exmouth Street in Sarnia was acquired as an emergency backup for Bluewater Health’s Mental Health program. Because of early preparations completed with community partners and donors, the facility is ready to be operational as of January 21.

“There is no better way to enter the New Year as a community than by offering hope and a new beginning to those who want to get to a better place in their lives,” said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley. “While I am gratified that we have this facility up and running, it is still a temporary solution until funding is received for the permanent facility that we desperately need. I am delighted that our community’s ask was listened to.” 

Reaume-Zimmer emphasized the importance and effectiveness of working collaboratively and across sectors. “For the past few years, we have been working closely with the City of Sarnia, the County of Lambton, Members of Provincial Parliament, and private donors to address the growing need for services and supports for individuals and families living with substance use issues,” she said. “Today’s announcement is a testament to the long-term commitment of our partners to the well-being of our community. This funding validates our collective efforts and concerns, and it brings a sense of confidence that the Ministry of Health is invested in building an addiction system. We’re thrilled to be able to move forward with this plan.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a rise in the number of people turning to drugs and alcohol, and to those reaching out to Bluewater Health for help with substance use. As efforts continue across Ontario to manage and contain the second wave of COVID-19, there is a critical need for Bluewater Health to maximize capacity to provide care for this vulnerable population. 

Clients wishing to access Residential Withdrawal Management Services can call 519-464-4487 to learn more about withdrawal management services available.


Bluewater Health, with locations in Sarnia and Petrolia, cares for the residents of Sarnia-Lambton. With close to 2,500 staff, Professional Staff and volunteers, Bluewater Health provides an array of specialized acute, complex continuing care, allied health and ambulatory care services. Bluewater Health’s Mission is: We create exemplary healthcare experiences with patients and families every time. For more information about Bluewater Health, visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. 

Media, for more information contact:

Tara Young
Communications Business Partner
Bluewater Health

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