Vancouver Losing Addiction And Mental Health Services Under B.C. Liberals’ Post-Election Health Care Plan
VANCOUVER - After saying they would protect health care during the election, the B.C. Liberals are cutting valuable and well-respected mental health and addiction programs in North Vancouver, New Democrat health critic Adrian Dix said today.
“The B.C. Liberals never mentioned their plan to eliminate these programs during the election campaign. But now, under the BC Liberals’ post-election health care plan, Vancouver Coastal Health is cutting funding for effective community-based mental health and addiction services, including the award winning West Coast Alternatives Society. This short-sighted move will leave children and families struggling," said Dix.
North Vancouver's West Coast Alternatives Society, recipient of the 2009 Provincial Award of Excellence in Addiction, helps an average of 250 patients and has a four-month wait list. It will be closing its adult and youth addiction treatment services and the programs it runs to help children whose parents are trying to overcome substance abuse and mental illness.
“As the B.C. Liberals slash health services, Vancouver Coastal is cutting the $890,000 the Society needs to provides these vital programs," explained Dix.
VCH is also dismantling Sea to Sky Community Services' child and youth addictions outpatient programs, school-based drug prevention and education program, and adult addictions outpatient program. These programs will cease on October 30, 2009.
North Shore Community Services is losing funding to provide help to seniors affected by mental health issues.
The pattern of cuts follows the approach taken by last month by the Fraser Health Authority, which issued 30-day termination notices to counselling and addiction programs.
"While the government says these mental health programs will now be delivered in-house, the health authorities lack the requisite staff and resources, and the B.C. Liberal government is diverting the funds that used to go towards these programs to the health authorities’ deficits,” said Dix. "The net result will be the loss of services vital to children and adults at risk.”
Dix also underscored that eliminating community-based programs contradicts Health Minister Kevin Falcon's claim that he wants to increase the health system's cost effectiveness.
"The evidence shows community based-programs produce better outcomes and are delivered more efficiently. These programs are also able to work with local communities to fundraise. However, donors who see effective and well-established local programs cut on short notice could become cynical and less willing to donate to these important initiatives in the future.”
Dix added that cutting community-based programs also undermines the pending ten year mental health and addiction plan.
“According to those in the field of addictions and mental health, increasing community-based services is key to a successful mental health and addictions strategy,” said Dix.