The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) wants more treatment facilities and support for people suffering from mental health issues and addiction in the region.
The board voted to send a letter to Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions, requesting the provincial government build treatment, recovery, detox and after-care facilities and complex care housing in the RDN.
“It’s heartbreaking and shameful in a country like ours, in a province like ours, that there’s people without houses and homes and they’re left to suffer their addiction and their mental illness, in some cases, on the streets,” said Chair Tyler Brown.
Brown added he was encouraged by Malcolmson’s mandate letter, which calls for expanding the number of treatment and detox centres — including beds designated for people under the age of 24.
Malcolmson’s mandate — given to her by the premier in November — also calls for improving access to complex care housing, which includes access to nurses and psychiatrists.
The board had a discussion about the phrase ‘most vulnerable’ and decided to remove it from the request to avoid labelling people and contributing to stigma surrounding addiction and mental health.
“We’re sending a clear message that as a region we want this, we need this. The effects of not having this in place spills out into all communities and I think we need to do better,” said Director Mark Swain.
The RDN’s letter is a followup to a similar request made to the previous minister of mental health and addictions, Brown said. It will also ask the mayors of Nanaimo, Parksville, Lantzville and Qualicum Beach to write similar letters to the minister.