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MALCOLMSON: Transforming mental health and substance use care in B.C.

Two years ago, government launched a 10-year plan called A Pathway to Hope
Provincial Minister of Mental Health and Addictions announced grants for six communities and organizations on Vancouver Island to address overdose response and awareness efforts. (Black Press file)

We are working hard to build a seamless, integrated system of mental health and substance use care that can be accessed quickly and close to home.

Two years ago, government launched a 10-year plan called A Pathway to Hope. Its our roadmap for building a comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care that works for everyone in B.C., no matter who they are, where they live or how much money they make.

This week, our progress report shows were on track to achieve our goals. Building this system from the ground up, step by step, we are transforming mental health and substance-use care in B.C.

Initially, A Pathway to Hope focused on a three-year plan to address priority needs across four areas: improving wellness for children youth and young adults; supporting Indigenous-led solutions; saving lives through better substance-use care; and improving access to quality care overall. Two years in, new services and supports were put into place across all priority areas, with more than half of the action items achieved and the remaining actions in implementation stages.

This means thousands more people are getting faster access to better quality care in all parts of our province. For example, tens of thousands of people are receiving newly available counselling services established through A Pathway to Hope.

Through A Pathway to Hope, we have funded 41 new First Nations-led mental health and wellness initiatives across 166 communities provincewide. As of June 2021, the First Nations Health Authority has delivered land-based health services in 147 locations throughout B.C.

We will continue escalating our response to the overdose emergency to save lives, while we build a system of care where services are always within reach. In the past two years, B.C. has expanded access to take-home naloxone kits to 350 new sites, more than doubled the number of overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites, and introduced Canadas first life- saving policy on prescribed safer supply.

There is much more work to do to ensure every person can get help without facing barriers and delays, and COVID-19 has added many strains to people and the health-care system. But I am energized by the progress we have made in only two years because this shows that our roadmap A Pathway to Hope will get us to our destination. Year over year, people in need will continue seeing real improvements better access and improved quality of care. We will keep working to ensure that no person is left behind.

Sheila Malcolmson is the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions in B.C.