VICTORIA, BC – (February 22, 2022): Today’s Provincial Budget announcement of new mental health and addictions spending gets us closer to the $2 billion of net new resources over four years that Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA BC) called for when this government took power.
The $164 million allocated for “complex care housing” are important new resources for people experiencing profound vulnerability and risk related to severe mental illness, substance use dependence, trauma, brain injury, and precarious housing. The overall allocation of $633 million to support individuals at risk of or experiencing homelessness is welcomed by CMHA BC. This expansion of supports aligns with CMHA BC’s call to focus some spending in this budget on adults and older adults.
CMHA BC further applauds the budget’s inclusion of investments designed to support youth aging out of care, survivors of sexualized violence, and enhancements to primary care capacity. In particular, the creation of new First Nations Primary Health Care Centres is an important step.
“It is encouraging to see a total $1.1 billion of increased spend on mental health and addictions since Budget 2017, which looks like a $375 million increase in spending per year,” says Jonny Morris, Chief Executive Officer, CMHA BC. “We will continue to keep an eye on the Province’s total allocations of mental health and addictions spending. As overall health spending increases, it will be imperative to ensure mental health and addictions care is not left behind.”
Research points to how compounding crises are having massive impacts on individual and collective mental health and wellbeing. Budget 2022 could have expanded the provincial response to these impacts.
“There are three key areas where Budget 2022 could have sustained momentum from prior budget years,” says Morris. “First, increasing and indexing income assistance rates to inflation, including disability assistance, are critical to protect any of the gains made in earlier budgets. Second, a portion of Budget 2022’s investments in protecting people and communities from climate-related disasters could be targeted towards the psychological impacts of disaster recovery. Third, there is a key opportunity in Budget 2023 to further transform access to psychotherapy with deeper and broader investments in community counselling.”
Senior Manager, Communications, CMHA BC Division
P: +1 (604) 349-4574