In 2002, the Campbell administration announced it would be allocating $138 million over six years to fund the New Democrat-authored 1998 mental health plan - which is about to be updated. But an investigation by Public Eye suggests the Liberals have done little to publicly report on the progress of that plan or the state of mental health care in British Columbia.
The plan committed the health ministry to "report every two years on progress towards (the) achievement of (the) vision and outcomes" in that document. And it promised the ministry would report annually "on the status of the Riverview Hospital Replacement and re-investment project" - part of the province's effort to decentralize mental health services. But the administration did neither.
A government spokesperson said that's because the Liberals use ministry service plans as their preferred method of accountability rather than annual reports for specific program areas. But the health ministry's service plan has included fewer and fewer mental health performance measures. In 2002, there were five. Now there's just one. And the Liberals have failed to follow through on their own commitments to monitor the sector.
In the 2002 budget, the health ministry said it would "implement an annual mental health services report card." That didn't happen. Moreover, a year earlier, the Liberals decided not to renew mental health advocate Nancy Hall's contract "as a result of the creation of a minister of state for mental health."
Ms. Hall had been, in part, "appointed to monitor the performance of the mental health system." At the time the Liberals dismissed her, then health minister Colin Hansen explained when "the position of the advocate was created the government did not have a minister of state with specific responsibility for mental health services - now we do." But, after the Liberals were re-elected in 2005, that ministerial seat wasn't filled.
Asked for comment on the Liberal's record, New Democrat leader Carole James said, "I think it's shocking. I wish I could say it's unique. It's what I've seen across the ministries...The government has taken a hands-off approach - no accountability."