B.C. mayors ask province for more mental health and substance use supports

The B.C. Urban Mayors’ Caucus has asked the provincial government to develop a complex care housing pilot project, after meeting with David Eby, attorney general and minister responsible for housing and Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions. || B.C. government photo
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A group of B.C. mayors has asked the provincial government to develop a complex care housing pilot project to support people who require mental health and substance use supports. The project would be made up of five sites, including one on Vancouver Island.

“People with complex needs are falling through the cracks and aren’t being served by the supportive housing models and programs currently available,” reads a statement from the B.C. Urban Mayors’ Caucus, an informal, non-partisan group representing 55 per cent of the province’s population.

The co-chairs, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, met last week with David Eby, attorney general and minister responsible for housing and Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions to discuss strengthening mental health and substance use supports in the face of the ongoing homelessness and opioid crises.

“This five-site pilot project is the necessary first step in filling a gap in the continuum of housing and health care to meet the needs of vulnerable people who require mental health and substance use supports and services unique to their needs,” said the statement. “Some of them may need extra supports on a pathway to recovery. Some of them may need to be in this kind of care longer term. This pilot project is an opportunity to learn on a small-scale, five-site basis and then — building on the learnings — to create additional sites in communities across the province.” 

The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) will send a letter to Malcolmson 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.

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.

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