City, Vancouver police and B.C. gov announce new annual grant to support mental health services, public safety

Click to play video: 'Funding to hire mental health workers in Vancouver'
Funding to hire mental health workers in Vancouver
The hiring of more mental health workers to address the ongoing mental health and addictions crisis was a key campaign promise during last fall's civic election in Vancouver and on Sunday, funding details were announced. Grace Ke reports – Feb 5, 2023

Recommendations for a $2.8 million dollar grant to Vancouver Coastal Health from the City of Vancouver will be presented to council on Feb. 14, 2023, to “enhance urgent mental health services.”

In a Sunday afternoon press conference, the announcement was made by Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim, along with provincial officials including B.C. Premier David Eby, health minister Adrian Dix, mental health and addictions minister Jennifer Whiteside, and Vancouver Coastal Health’s Dr. Patricia Daly.

Click to play video: 'New Vancouver grant will aim to provide better mental health and public safety services'
New Vancouver grant will aim to provide better mental health and public safety services
Story continues below advertisement

“It’s hard to emphasize the importance of this announcement and the positive impact that it will have on our community. We are building on the foundation of a made-in-Vancouver approach that has been successful since 1978,” said Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim.

“With this announcement, we have the opportunity to set a new standard in North America for a modern and compassionate approach towards addressing the complex and often interlinked challenges regarding public safety and mental health.”

The latest health and medical news emailed to you every Sunday.

Funding for the grant was enabled by a Vancouver City Council motion entitled Enabling the Requisitioning and Hiring of 100 New Police Officers and 100 Mental Health Nurses.

That motion was passed on Nov. 22, 2022, as part of various recommendations. The motion has directed city staff to allocate $8 million toward the hiring of new police officers and up to $8 million toward VCH mental health crisis response services.

According to officials, the recommended grant funding will enable service partners to:

  • Increase the capacity of the Car 87/88 police partnership service
  • Grow the capacity of the Assertive Outreach Team police-partnership service
  • Establish moderate (non-police) de-escalation services for individuals who are not in high levels of crisis and do not need Car 87/88 supports
  • Strengthen Indigenous approaches across all VCH Urgent Mental Health and Substance Use services
Click to play video: 'Vancouver city council approves yet another Granville Street revitalization plan'
Vancouver city council approves yet another Granville Street revitalization plan

Initial funds for 2023 will go towards supporting preliminary work to begin hiring for 58 positions. In future years, the city’s annual grant to Vancouver Coastal Health will grow to $8 million and may be used for more proactive and preventative services over time, the city said.

Story continues below advertisement

According to the city, this investment, along with additional funding for the hiring of 100 new police officers, will serve as a bolster to Vancouver’s frontline mental health and public safety response.

“Solving the problems that we see on our streets will require all of us working together,” said B.C. Premier David Eby. “ An enhanced Car 87/88 program will make a real difference here in Vancouver, and it serves as a model we can look at expanding to other communities.”

The city said it’s the latest step forward to enhance the collaborative partnerships on public safety and mental health between the City of Vancouver, the Provincial government, Vancouver Coastal Health, and the Vancouver Police Department.

Future phases of work with VCH may include proactive responses such as mental health outreach, integrated case management, and services to support the integration of people recovering from crisis into the community.

“This is a positive step that will enhance public safety by supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” said VPD Chief Constable Adam Palmer.

“It is also an example of the positive change that occurs when we all work together to tackle complex problems.”

Click to play video: 'Councillor Pete Fry on ABC Vancouver’s 100 officers and mental health nurses plan'
Councillor Pete Fry on ABC Vancouver’s 100 officers and mental health nurses plan

Sponsored content