Minister Judy Darcy made her first trip to Prince Rupert in her capacity as Minister of Mental Health and Addictions last month.
Darcy met with North Coast MLA Rice and Prince Rupert’s service providers to get a better understanding of the successes and the challenges faced in the city and surrounding areas.
“I have visited many parts of the province and it was great to get to Prince Rupert,” Darcy said. “What I really wanted to know from them is what’s working and how can services be improved and how do we need to work together.”
Two challenges really stuck out for Darcy during her round table meeting. The first was the difficulty Northern Health faces in retaining physicians, nurses and other health care providers despite their best efforts to recruit employees.
Darcy believes the lack of retention is a combination of housing, pay and rural location.
“Sometimes people will come here to begin their career but not necessarily stay more than a couple of years,” she said.
Darcy said she was particularly impressed by what she heard from the drop-in mental health clinic, a community-based intervention facility that opened in 2018, and their work in removing the barriers that people have often had to accessing mental health and substance use services.
However, despite their success, the challenges residents face in getting to Prince George treatment centres still remains a major issue, and at the top of Darcy’s mind for Prince Rupert.
A visit to Trinity House, one of the few registered men’s recovery houses in the North, was one of the highlight visits of Darcy’s trip. In August the provinical government brought in new regulations to tame what she refered to as “the wild west” recovery houses which were loosely regulated services.
“They weren’t strong regulations and you couldn’t be assured that you were getting quality care and safe care if you were in a recovery house. We brought in some tough new regulations, and Trinity House is one of the first to be meeting those regulations,” she said.
A part of the ministry’s “A Pathway to Hope” plan — defined as a roadmap to improving mental health and addictions care in B.C. — is the creation of Foundry Centres, a one-stop mental health support site for youth ages 12-24 where they can access a variety of health and social services.
Rice said this initative was brought up to service providers at the roundtable to gauge if there was a desire to bring the centre to Prince Rupert.
“Approximately, three years ago local service providers were working together and taking the steps to create a youth hub such as the Foundry, but the work didn’t continue. It appears there may be interest to pick up on that work and carry on with it from some local service providers,” Rice said.
Service providers had until the end of November to submit an Expression of Interest on the idea before they decided whether or not to move forward.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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