Meeting during the annual Union of B.C. municipalities convention this week, the B.C. Mayors Caucus issued a call for the province to address crucial mental health and addiction issues facing communities across B.C.
The statement issued by the caucus said the province needs to “urgently” establish long-term residential beds for state-of-the-art care of people with severe addictions and mental illnesses, increase mental health and addiction services at the community level to ensure all citizens have access to care, andn develop a develop a provincial social policy framework to ensure tax dollar efficiency by better integrating health care, police, corrections, and social services for people with mental illness and addiction.
The province had some health-related announcements of their own at UBCM, including changes to the ambulance service.
Health Minister Terry Lake announced a pilot program that could see paramedics in rural areas making house calls or taking on other community health care challenges to create more activity and allow for full time coverage.
In order to have full-time paramedics available 24/7, Lake said, other roles for them need to be found in the community. He said the province has made progress working on the plan with the B.C. Ambulance Service and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.