B.C. mental health plan must go farther, says BCGEU | National Union of Public and General Employees

B.C. mental health plan must go farther, says BCGEU

'This plan needs to go farther and set more ambitious targets with clear and transparent measures for accountability and oversight.' - Darryl Walker.

Darryl Walker, president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE)Vancouver (9 Nov. 2010) - The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) is pleased to see that the government has released a new 10-year plan to address mental health and substance use in the province.

“It’s a positive sign that this plan recognizes that more emphasis needs to be placed on the determinants of good mental health, such as employment and income, education and early childhood development,” says BCGEU president Darryl Walker.

“But this government needs to do much more to invest in these determinants of health - raising the minimum wage, addressing the affordable housing shortage, developing a coordinated and accessible system of childcare, investing in community-based social services and stopping the chronic reorganization of health care workers would be a good start.”

BCGEU has been calling for government to issue a comprehensive mental health plan since the last provincial plan expired over two years ago.

During those two years without a plan, there have been staff vacancies of up to 40% in child and youth mental health and youth forensic services and a number of cuts to vital mental health services.

Cuts to mental health have affected BCGEU members directly in places such as the Matrix Youth Addictions Program in Maple Ridge, Waddell’s Haven Guest Home in Mission, Atlas Youth Treatment Facility in Terrace and Step Up House in Quesnel. These are just a few of the important services that have been lost due to underfunding of the health authorities.

Walker says the plan is too general and lacks the specific measures needed to address the growing mental health crisis in the province.

“Our members work tirelessly day in and day out to deliver services to British Columbians who need support, in conditions that have become harder due to funding cuts and chronic reorganization,” he says.

“This plan needs to go farther and set more ambitious targets with clear and transparent measures for accountability and oversight.

“We welcome more details on government's plans for measuring success in a genuine way and we invite them to hear from front-line workers about the challenges in the system,” he adds.

“BCGEU is committed to holding this and future governments accountable for implementing the plan and ensuring true transformation in how our society views and supports mental health.”

BCGEU represents thousands of workers in mental health and addictions services in the health, community, government and criminal justice sectors.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE