As we approach Election Day on Oct 14, 2020 you may find it useful to review and compare the main political-party platforms stance on mental health and addictions, and what we may expect in the future.
While the remarks below reflect the general issues as currently published, you may wish to dig deeper within the corresponding referenced websites.
We encourage you to take into consideration the importance of each mental health approach which reflect your own preferences. Every vote and every voice is valuable.
BC Main Party Election Platform Highlights for Mental Health & Addictions
Generally, the whole party platform established in 2017 included 122 promises of which 96 were substantially completed when the election was called. Whilst the current platform stays the course, it includes 60 new promises and 94 commitments to expand or continue existing programs and initiatives.
Saving Lives, Healing Pain
Taken from https://www.bcndp.ca/platform#pillar2
The pain is felt in every part of this province. The pain of lives impacted by mental health challenges or the grip of addiction.
It’s why our government, on day one, created a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, the only one of its kind in Canada. Because we knew that, while there are so many dedicated front-line workers out there doing their best every day to help people, they needed more complete and structured support and resources to deliver ongoing, coordinated care.
Building on the start we’ve made, we will:
- Scale up BC’s response to the opioid crisis: Before COVID-19 hit, BC had its first drop in the rate of overdose deaths since 2012. As we now deal with two public health emergencies, we will keep accelerating BC’s response across the full continuum of care: prevention, harm reduction, safe prescription medications, treatment, and recovery.
- Crack down on the toxic drug supply: We’ll free up police to focus on serious crime in BC communities, including cracking down on those who distribute toxic drugs on the streets. We’ll also explore new ways to help prescribers separate more people from the toxic drug supply through safe prescription alternatives.
- Fast-track the move toward decriminalization: We’ll work with police chiefs to push Ottawa to decriminalize simple possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use, or develop a made-in-BC solution that will help save lives.
- Develop better options for chronic work-related pain: In partnership with WorkSafeBC, we’ll identify new ways of improving pain management practices for injured workers – and mandate WorkSafeBC to provide treatment on demand to those with chronic pain as a result of workplace injuries.
As part of our 10-year Pathway to Hope mental health plan, we will:
- Expand the availability of treatment beds for people: We will build new treatment, recovery, detox and after-care facilities across the province, including in communities with an expressed need such as Maple Ridge, with some beds specifically for British Columbians under age 24. We will also step up oversight of recovery homes and other private treatment providers to ensure quality care, accountability, and value for money.
- Focus new mental health initiatives on kids and young adults: We’ve developed an initial mental health approach that focuses on addressing problems early, before they become too big. Moving forward, we’ll establish successful Foundry youth centres in more communities and dedicated mental health teams in school districts.
- Develop Complex Care housing: We’ll provide an increased level of support – including more access to nurses and psychiatrists – for BC’s most vulnerable who need more intensive care than supportive housing provides, including in places like the Riverview lands in Coquitlam.
- Expand access to counselling: By investing in new e-health and other technologies, we can bring mental health care to more people in all regions of BC – reducing counselling costs for people in rural and remote communities, in particular, because access to care shouldn’t depend on the size of your bank account.
Other Reading: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020MMHA0052-001819
Announced : Six new Assertive Community Treatment teams (ACT) throughout the province.
Reference NDP 10 yr Government Strategy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/mental-health-and-addictions-strategy
Announced: 22 additional primary care networks in 13 regions around the province who do not have family doctors. 270 health care workers have been hired to provide team based health care budgeted at $78.54 million. Patients (general public) will receive expanded comprehensive care and improved access to primary care which includes access to mild to moderate mental health and substance use services.
People dealing with addiction and mental health challenges need true, wrap-around support services – and a pathway to recovery.
A BC Liberal government led by Andrew Wilkinson will give people suffering from mental health and addictions challenges more than just a roof over their heads – with a full spectrum of care and real opportunities to get off drugs and lead healthy, productive lives.
Andrew is the only leader who has actually treated mental health and addictions on the front lines.
BC Liberal Government will:
Work to eliminate systemic racism and unconscious bias across the health care system, and to ensure services are equitable and accessible for all, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or any other form of discrimination.
Improving supports for Mental health and addictions
As public awareness and understanding of mental health issues have grown, so too has our responsibility to provide adequate treatments and supports. We need to treat the causes, and prevent the harm. Tragically, the crisis of opioid-addiction and fatal overdoses has increased to take record numbers of British Columbians’ lives.
A BC Liberal Government will treat the causes and prevent the harm:
- Increase addiction-treatment and recovery programs, and ensure those who need help getting off drugs have a clear pathway to treatment, unlike the NDP’s approach of simply warehousing people with addictions.
- Clearly recognize that addiction is a medical disorder, and ensure a focus on public health and safety in the treatment of people suffering from addictions.
- Increase mental health supports in public secondary schools, such as registered psychiatric nurses.
- Introduce a Safe Care Act to safely and ethically help young people with addictions into treatment.
- End the funding discrimination that continues to disqualify abstinence-based treatment programs.
- Implement a provincial prescription-drug monitoring program to prevent addiction with early referrals to specialist care and treatment options.
Strengthening public safety (pertaining to mental health)
A BC Liberal Government will:
- Fund the hiring of 200 additional police officers across the province and 100 more psychiatric social workers/nurses.
- Establish more Integrated Mobile Crisis Response Teams to respond to mental health related emergency calls.
Infrastructure and transportation (pertaining to mental health)
A BC Liberal Government will:
- Complete all projects the NDP has announced but failed to fund, including a new Surrey Hospital, a new acute care tower for Richmond Hospital, Mills Memorial Hospital, and the Burnaby Hospital Redevelopment.
- Expand Foundry Centres and Integrated Mobile Crisis Response Teams to respond to mental health-related emergency calls.
- Deliver the biggest infrastructure investment in BC history, with a total investment of $30.9 billion over three years, including in transportation, hospitals, primary care clinics, seniors’ care homes, mental health treatment and affordable housing.
- Upgrade and expand emergency rooms, mental health beds and primary care clinics.
Liberals pledge $58 million for mental health response -Vancouver Sun October 8, 2020 Will expand the (ACT) program that pairs police officers with mental health workers by providing $58million to hire 100 psychiatric social workers and registered nurses to staff joint teams with police to answer mental health calls
Green Party generally states that due to the complexity and enormity of the issues it will require all 3 parties working together to provide solutions.
Mental Health and Well Being
Increasing numbers of British Columbians are struggling with their mental health and we need to treat it like any other health issue by properly resourcing it in our public system.
Mental health care is failing at all levels, from early intervention for children and youth through to tertiary care for adults with complex psychological problems. The uncertainty and instability around the pandemic is placing increased psychological strain on us all. On top of that, young people are also facing compounding crises of climate change and affordability. Young people are the emerging leaders of our province and they should feel hopeful and excited about their future.
We must act quickly and decisively to protect our mental health as we did our physical health. This
begins by increasing accessibility to mental health-services. Data clearly shows that lack of access to
mental healthcare is most pronounced in those with lower incomes, fewer years of education, as well as among vulnerable and minority groups. Cont’d.
Invest to build an affordable and accessible mental healthcare system where cost is not a barrier to seeking help.
- The B.C. Greens would allocate $1.0 billion over a four-year cycle to address mental health issues within the medical services plan. Funding should be provided for a comprehensive suite of initiatives including:
- Establishing accessible mental health treatment options for all those struggling with anxiety or depression.
- Early intervention, youth mental health initiatives, integrated primary care specific to youth and mental health enabling families to easily navigate resources in a supportive environment.
- Community based options for responding to those who need mental health care and their families such as Clubhouse International.
- Enhanced counselling outreach services to work with the homeless community.
- Allocate $200 million per year to invest in mental healthcare facilities to provide mental healthcare services and community based centres for mental health and rehabilitation; and accelerate capital plans for the construction of tertiary care facilities and detoxification beds. Protect operating funding for facilities.
- Develop and implement a Loneliness Strategy.
- Conduct a public information campaign to increase awareness and provide information on where to get help.
British Columbia is in the midst of our worst overdose crisis ever. About 170 British Columbians die every month from overdoses related to the illegal and toxic drug supply. Since a public health emergency was declared in 2016, over 6,000 people in B.C. have died of preventable overdose. COVID-19 has made the situation more dangerous for people who use drugs by disrupting supply sources and reducing services in place to help people remain safe. Drug policies need to support public health and be based on a compassionate and evidence-based response. Key in this approach is providing people who use drugs with adequate resources to minimize the risks of drug use and support individual and public health. Cont’d.
Scale up safe supply beyond its current level
- Working with the colleges of physicians and pharmacists to encourage their members to participate in existing programs.
- Funding a wider range of safe supply resources, including low-barrier ways of dispensing (e.g. dispensing machines)
- Ongoing consultation with people who use drugs in order to create low-barrier and accessible programs.
Enhance funding for harm reduction services and create COVID-friendly plans to ensure people have access and don’t use alone.
Decriminalize simple possession of drugs through:
- De prioritizing policing of simple possession through implementing Dr. Bonnie Henry’s recommended amendments to the Police Act, and:
- Strongly pursuing decriminalization with the Federal Gov’t for BC.
Where They Stand: What BC’s Parties Promise on the Overdose Crisis – The Tyee, October 5, 2020
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