Latimer: Mayors prioritize mental health

I don’t think it is beyond our grasp to create a well-organized network of services for those who need it.

It was with encouragement I read about a recent meeting of B.C. mayors.

By unanimous vote, the BC Mayors’ Caucus has declared the crisis around mental health, addictions and homelessness as a top priority for all communities.

At the Union of BC Municipalities convention in September, our province’s mayors agreed these problems are on the rise and they want action from the provincial government.

The Mayors’ Caucus wants the province to provide more long-term care beds for those with severe addictions and mental illness and also to increase community services so that everyone has access to appropriate care.

Ever since our last long term residential mental health facility closed in 2012, there has been a rise in mental health-related problems in B.C. communities.

This is not surprising and echoes what has been happening across the country ever since the trend toward deinstitutionalization began in the 1970s.

Governments love the idea of shutting down large mental health institutions because of the cost savings.

Unfortunately, the idea behind deinstitutionalization requires a simultaneous bolstering of community-based treatment centres and these never seem to get the necessary level of funding.

What results are more mentally ill people living on the streets and getting snared in our justice system rather than being properly cared for and supported.

Mental health professionals have been talking about this for years and it seems at least one level of government is finally getting the idea.

The way we’re doing this is simply not working.

We are dealing with people in ERs and jails instead of helping them remain functional within the community setting.

This isn’t good for the individuals and it costs us more as well.

Finally, some of the municipalities in BC have adopted policies such as ‘housing first’ to combat homelessness among the mentally ill and addicted.

This has had some excellent preliminary results and it is nice to see other communities coming on board.

Cities are also developing strategies to end homelessness and calling on the province to help with coordinating health care, police, social services and community supports for people dealing with complex issues. If our local, provincial and federal governments could all combine their efforts to make these issues a long-term priority, I believe it would be possible to put an end to homelessness in our province.

Not only that, I don’t think it is beyond our grasp to create a well-organized network of services combining community supports with long-term beds for those who need it.  We should be able to give excellent care to all our citizens and ensure we all have access to a healthy and dignified life.

Just Posted

Kelowna council defers decision on homeless development

BC Housing is revisiting original plan after concerns from local businesses

3% tax hike proposed in West Kelowna

Proposed provisional budget tax hike in line with recent annual increases in the city

Okanagan robbery suspect sought

RCMP are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a suspect in an… Continue reading

11-year-old water quality advisory lifted in Glenmore

Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District says Interior Health gave the green light to lift advisory

Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark left him no other choice

Crook’s Corner

A slice of this week’s arts and entertainment happenings in the North Okanagan at a glance

UPDATE: Liberal Hogg wins South Surrey-White Rock byelection over Conservative Findlay

B.C. riding to be represented by non-conservative for first time in decades

Six-year-old boy needs $19,000 a month to treat rare form of arthritis

Mother of sick Sooke boy asks government to help fund treatments

Environmental groups slam NDP decision to continue with Site C

Construction industry, meanwhile, is cautiously optimistic about how the project will look

Be ladder safe both at work and home

WorkSafeBC wants you to keep safe while hanging those Christmas lights this year

B.C. overdose deaths surpass 1,200

96 people died of illicit drug overdoses in October

A classic Christmas play with a Kelowna twist

Scrooge is transported to Kelowna in New Vintage Theatre’s new holiday play, opening Wednesday

Crown appeals stay against Jamie Bacon in Surrey Six killings

B.C.’s prosecution service says judge’s decision reveals ‘errors of law’

Feds agree to give provinces 75 per cent of pot tax revenues

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the agreement today

Most Read