Talbot House reinstates priest as director

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Recovery centre will also apply to reopen, says board

CBC News Nova Scotia

Posted: Sep 6, 2012 9:40 PM AT Last Updated: Sep 6, 2012 10:35 PM AT

Talbot House closed this spring following an operational review by the Department of Community Services. (CBC)     

A Cape Breton addiction recovery centre is one step closer to reopening after reinstating its executive director, Rev. Paul Abbass.

John Gainer, the chair of the board of directors for the Talbot House Recovery Centre in Frenchvale, announced Thursday the board members had also decided to make a submission to resume operations at the recovery centre.

The trouble for Talbot House — the only addiction recovery centre outside the Halifax area — began more than six months ago, when unspecified allegations were made against Abbass.

Abbass resigned in February; a subsequent police investigation determined there was no evidence of wrongdoing on his part.

But the complaint against him sparked a government review of the addictions recovery centre, which determined it was not following proper procedures.

The Department of Community Services found multiple failings at Talbot House in an operational review in the spring. The department has since issued a request for proposals for a new recovery centre.

At first, the Talbot House board of directors said it would not apply to reopen the centre because the proposal process was too complex for a small volunteer board.

The about-face on that decision comes after Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter extended the deadline for the request for proposals. He said the government has also arranged for Talbot House to have the assistance of Wayne Yorke, an addictions service expert.

“The premier spoke with me directly and I considered his offer to be sincere,” Gainer told CBC News on Thursday.

Gainer said the board voted unanimously to reinstate Abbass as executive director because they recognize that he’s vital to the centre’s success.

“He has demonstrated leadership, he has demonstrated vision,” said Gainer.

“The population, the individuals that are actually most important in this entire discussion is the addicts — and they trust him.”

The new deadline for applications for the recovery centre is Oct. 9, but Gainer said he is confident the board will be given the time it needs to complete its package.

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