Enough talk, analysis and fruitless recommendations. Terrace needs a detox and treatment centre.
There’s much higher drug and alcohol use per capita outside of the south and the further north you go, the worse the matter.
Local mental health services are not available when required, Terrace ranked the 10th city in the Canadian Crime Severity Index in 2014. This year, the homeless count cost the city $2,500 and 74 people were found. And now what, another committee is formed to analyze the situation.
Action has always been diverted by yet another well-intentioned committee or task force whether the subject is youth at risk, suicide awareness, domestic violence, the RCMP Crime Reduction Unit (an increased police presence to make the problem less visible) or the Highway of Tears and Fears.
The politicians commissioning these reports and their authors have obviously never had to deal with personal demons or the dark, dank side of life without any hope of helpful services or they would have insisted they exist long before now. The Minister of Health and the Minister of Children and Family Development commissioned a 40-page glossy report and mandate titled “Healthy Minds, Healthy People: A 10-year Plan to Address Mental Health and Substance Use in B.C. 2010” It was an election promise.
“The plan establishes a vision for collaborative and integrated actions focused on opportunities to promote positive mental health, and to prevent health and substance abuse problems before they occur,” to quote the document.
The plan includes an action statement “specific to training programs for suicide prevention and intervention across a lifespan (including children and youth)” and several more “action statements” intended to “enhance and make accessible, the capacity and quality of the health system’s response to mental health and substance abuse problems in B.C.”
It also states that mental illness costs B.C. $6.6 billion per year and indirect costs of $1.6 billion in lost productivity directly related to alcohol alone. Liquid courage is costly.
These promises were made by the Liberal government even though budget cuts ensued. Christy Clark was sworn in as the Premier of B.C. with a “Family First Agenda” in 2011. But she seems to have swept the mandate under the carpet as she strides forward with an exceptional interest in Northern B.C.’s resources.
There are literally hundreds of reports making the same recommendations costing millions of dollars and action is never taken. Accountability is non-existent.
Broken people are voiceless and don’t alert the media of the gaps in service mandates until they die, a tear or two falls and then they disappear into the forgotten past or if tragic enough, another inquiry is ordered. It does, however, create government jobs and an aura of good will.
If you actually walk through the doors of children and youth mental office desperate and begging for help, they will say to you “you need a referral from your doctor to receive our services.”
That is a cold shoulder when you are standing on the edge of a precipice so close to falling.
It means you need a doctor, a phone and the strength to wait for an appointment and then a referral to services that usually don’t exist here. This is another direct contravention of the 2010 report recommendations. Mental healthiness is merely a theory with them.
If you were born beautiful or smart it wasn’t by your choice though it is a leg up on the road through life but by the same measure if you were born into poverty of mind or body or with a tortured soul these are also not choices made at birth but the luck of the draw, cards fall as they may.
Lucky or not, they are not choices.
Overwhelming challenges are to be overcome and some have the strength and/or opportunity and some do not, it’s not just a question of not trying hard enough. Equal opportunity is not an inherent right as the Charter of Rights insists.
A detox and treatment centre along with a crisis centre here in Terrace would be a sensible central location for a vast area that would be better utilized and successful than placing people on waiting lists for Prince George or Vancouver, a fast track to Hastings street if you fail.
This would be the first step in addressing the volumes of issues leading to drug and alcohol addictions or in reverse, addictions leading to mental illness, homelessness and crime.
If Canadians want change, there has never a better time than now to prevent another headline of one more man, woman or child tragically dying as the end result of addiction.
Remember every homeless person camped out in the woods behind the arena was once a child. Whether it’s looking out from a drug-induced coma or ending it all, these are not choices we wish upon ourselves – why would we assume anyone else would wish it upon themselves?
The jury in the Alyssa George case has recommended that “A committee/focus group (here we go again) should be established to investigate the construction of a proper medically staffed substance abuse/detox centre in the city of Terrace to service all outlaying areas.”
If anyone out there is capable of setting up an online petition to get action on a decade long promise, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The evidence is reality and what we need is pressure from the community for accountability.