Coralee Oakes, speaking in the legislature yesterday (Monday), talked about the challenges that people face in smaller, rural areas of the province.
“I’ve talked to so many parents who’ve tried to access support for their children for mental health and addictions, and it just simply doesn’t exist in our smaller rural communities. The fact is parents are waiting months and often have to travel long distances to get the adequate supports that they need, and we need to change this.”
Oakes says investment is needed in residential treatment options, recognizing that families deserve dignity and hope.
“The reality is that individuals can wait months to get access to these critically important beds and so often there is a significant financial barrier. I’ve talked to many families that have mortgaged their home and had to take on significant debt in order to support their loved one in treatment. This should not be the case in BC today.”
Oakes also noted that First Nation elders and community members also wanted resources for substance abuse to include other substance addictions such as alcohol and crystal meth.
“In Cariboo North our First Nations elders and community members have been working hard for years to have access to detox beds locally. I know this is an important project and I will continue to raise it here in this house and ensure that they get the resources that are needed.”
Oakes also pushed for another project in her area.
“We also have this incredible housing project put forward by the Quesnel Tillicum Society. At the request of government the Society invested significant funds to develop a proposal, work with architects and get through the approval stages of our local government. It is a worthy and important project in our community and I hope that this government will recognize that the urgent need for housing reaches beyond the Lower Mainland and into our small rural communities as well. It is a project that I know this government can be proud of, and would have significant impact in our community in addressing mental health and addictions.”
Oakes also called for more investment for training in medical school, and to support physicians, nurses and other healthcare specialists to ensure that the healthcare system and our institutions are better designed to help those that are dealing with mental health and addictions issues.
And she said more also had to be done on the preventative side.
“This includes investment and significant ongoing campaigns with youth in our education system. We need to be investing in training and resourcing mental health support in our advanced education and post secondary sectors that could include incentives to attract people to go into these important sectors. One of the ways could be to provide ways to forgive student loans if you come to an under resourced area such as the north.”
Oakes closed by challenging all of her colleagues to do more in addressing these issues that she said was tearing communities and families apart.