The new BC government has identified mental health and addictions as a top priority. Premier John Horgan has promised immediate action on the ongoing fentanyl crisis and has appointed Judy Darcy as the new Minister of Mental Health and Addiction to carry out a co-ordinated response. Yet Minister Darcy's mandate goes beyond crisis management. She has been tasked to establish a dedicated Ministry to improve access to services and supports for mental health and addiction problems across the province.
Your MLA has an important role to play in the days ahead. He or she has been elected to represent you and your perspectives in all government proceedings. If you emphasis the importance of acting on what has been promised, he or she will reiterate the importance of taking action in the legislature.
Will you take a minute to call your newly elected MLA? Tell them that you stand behind the b4stage4 declaration. Simply fill out the form on this page and the system will automatically identify your MLA based on your postal code.
To start the conversation:
1. Tell them that mental health and addiction is an important issue. If you have a personal story – share it. If not - you can simply say ”Too many people are waiting for basic mental health care."
2. Then ask...
“How will the new government work towards better mental health in BC over the next four years?"
3. If they say…
- We will invest in mental health needs and substance use issues – tell them that where the money is spent is more important than simply spending the money. We must prioritize early intervention and prevention. There is strong evidence to suggest that if we intervene early in primary care settings and provide access to community-based services and supports, people can and do recover from mental illnesses and/or addictions. This reorientation of care will not only provide help at the first sign of symptoms, but also alleviate some of the burden placed on acute care facilities. Ask them where they will invest.
- We will prioritize health promotion and illness prevention – tell them that this is a crucial step forward in reorienting our system of care away from crisis management and towards supporting the well-being of communities, but won't immediately solve the critical shortages, we are experiencing in mental health and addiction services, supports and practitioners. Ask them how prevention efforts will be balanced with an increase in accessible treatment for those in need.
- We will address the opioid crisis to reduce overdose deaths - tell them we need strategies that respond rather than react. We must create an integrated addictions system of care that can fully support someone from illness to health. This foundation is crucial for the effective implementation of further harm reduction strategies, such as public education on the dangers of fentanyl-laced street drugs, safe-injection sites, and drug-substitution therapy . People are more likely to recover if they have access to appropriate facilities, services and supports.
4. Be sure to end the conversation with the message
“I support an equitable system of care that values mental health and addiction care as equal to physical health care”.
 Mental Health Commission of Canada (2017). Strengthening the Case for Investing in Canada’s Mental Health System: Economic Considerations. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/sites/default/files/2017-03/case_for_investment_eng.pdf
 Children’s Mental Health Ontario. (2016). Children, youth and families wait too long for life-saving mental health treatment: Wait times for counselling and therapy. Retrieved from: http://files.constantcontact.com/314f3f09501/b9c06c94-2dae-4903-a5de-78f17ccf73ee.pdf?ver=1480699749000
  Barua, B. (2015). Waiting your turn: Wait times for health care in Canada. Fraser Institute.
 Ministry of Health. (2017). Factsheet: Actions to prevent overdoses in B.C. Retrieved from: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/actions-to-prevent-overdoses-in-bc