Mayor to Support Nearly $1 Million in New Mental Health and Addictions Supports

February 16, 2017 | Safer Communities

 Mayor Robertson will support investments aligned with recommendations from the Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions’ Final Report, to be presented to Council Tuesday. The new funding - approximately $450,000 from the City that leverages another $550,000 from partners - focuses on mental health support, harm reduction, drug prevention and treatment and includes:

  • $100,000 for mental health and addictions de-stigmatization programs, in collaboration with the People with Lived Experience Advisory Committee and Vancouver Coastal Health;
  • Up to $30,000 to build capacity of peers doing front-line work to prevent overdose deaths;
  • $100,000 to pilot and evaluate Aboriginal healing and wellness activities;
  • Up to $40,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association, Vancouver-Fraser branch for a mental health wellness initiative for grade 6 and 7 students in partnership with Vancouver School Board and the Vancouver Police Foundation; and
  • Up to $60,000 for the OUR PLACE Circle of the Child community-based response and prevention program.

“The fentanyl opioid crisis is intensifying Vancouver’s mental health crisis, leaving our most vulnerable with untreated mental illness and addictions urgently needing care, treatment and support,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “These investments are an important step in providing better mental health and addictions care, but we desperately need the provincial and federal governments to step up and close gaps in our health and social safety net to protect our most vulnerable.”

The new funding, leveraged from the City’s Innovation Fund and Opioid Crisis Budget, comes on the heels of $220,000 approved by Council last week to aid the City’s front-line harm reduction response to the fentanyl opioid crisis.

In addition to the immediate funding measures, staff are recommending:

  • $35,283 to the Portland Hotel Society to pilot a managed alcohol program on the Downtown Eastside;
  • $40,000 for the Bloom Group (in partnership with the City, Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Housing, and Pacific Blue Cross) to develop Phase 2 of a coordinated mental health and addictions system, including a shared dashboard;  and
  • $40,000 to McCreary Centre Society for implementing Phase 2 of the TRRUST Collective Impact.

The Task Force brought their first phase of recommendations to Council in 2014. Since then, 18 of the 23 priority actions have either been completed or are currently underway. 

Council approved $2.2 million - the first phase of funding targeted for the fentanyl opioid response – in January, which went towards:

  • Continued support for Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services’ mobile unit in the Downtown Eastside;
  • More naloxone and mental health and addictions training for City workers likely to encounter overdoses;
  • A new, volunteer-led Community Policing Centre in Strathcona that focuses on better integration between local residents, social supports and emergency services; and
  • More support for the 11 existing Community Policing Centres across Vancouver.

About the Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions

The Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions, building on the success of the Four Pillars Coalition, was initiated in October 2013 to mobilize leaders from a broad range of sectors to address the ongoing crisis in Vancouver. The Task Force brings together 60 leaders from the City, Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Housing, the Vancouver Police Department, non-profit organizations, people with lived experience and other related sectors to identify high priority, feasible actions that will improve the quality, accessibility and choice within the system of care.