SYDNEY, N.S. -- The Cape Breton District Health Authority says it is laying off six counsellor attendants who work in addiction and recovery programs.

The authority says the layoffs are not being done to reduce costs, but are part of ongoing changes to addiction care in the district.

The counsellor attendants -- who provide a support role to patients -- will be replaced with a team of registered health professionals, including nurses, a social worker and a recreational therapist.

They will work in the inpatient withdrawal management unit in Sydney, as well as opiate recovery and addiction day programs throughout the district.

Linda Courey, director of mental health and addiction services, says the layoffs are unfortunate, but the authority has a responsibility to ensure the best care possible for its patients.

The layoffs come into effect Jan. 1.