A head case

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."

8 Comments

That would be the same NDP mental health plan that the NDP announced and promised but did not actually budget a dime for? Funny you would neglect to mention that part Sean.

"That would be the same NDP mental health plan that the NDP announced and promised but did not actually budget a dime for? "

Well, that must excuse the Liberals then, right Larsen? I mean, they've only been power now for what, 7 years?

N, my comment was not meant to offer up any excuses; only to point out that a professional; truly non-partisan journalist would have rightfully pointed out that the NDP had an even more pathetic record with not funding their mental health plan at all, a fairly significant oversight on Sean’s part.

Interesting to note that today’s Paul Willcocks column is on this exact same subject and Mr. Willcocks does right fully note the NDP’s “sham” (his words not mine), of a mental health plan that the NDP announced, but never funded.

In Holeman’s case he not only fails to mention this significant fact; he even gives Carole James a free partisan soap box attack on the issue.

larsen's polemic is really just shooting the messenger.if spomeone took a long look at the justice system they woulsd find soem of the same princioples at work as the Liberals have slashed and burned workers and programs.that is why the prosecutors are not pshing vioent people to stay in jail.And the same slah and burn has made things worse at mentla health.

SB,
Perhaps you could try composing your comments with a word processing program -- use the spelling and grammar check -- then copy 'n' paste it in the Comments box.

SB, supposing you comments are true; it would still be common, proper and ethical journalistic practice to briefly mention what the previous government did on the file.
And furthermore to offer “either” political side of an issue a free partisan “soap box” undermines and calls to question the authors true motives.

Interesting that Carole James is so keen to comment on the Public Eye whereas fewer and fewer Liberal MLA’s will return Sean’s calls. Why do you think that is ? Why am I one of the few right winger commentators still left here ? I do enjoy the site but am only trying to point out that if it is observed to be partisan; it undermines the credibility of the site.

I am not trying to attack Sean for what he wrote with regards to Mental Health, my issue is the manner withy which he wrote his comments. To exclude the NDP’s pathetic record AND give Carole James free political pot shots in the process has a smell to it. I also pointed out that more veteran people such as Paul Willcocks know better.

Thanks AC, I will wear my reading glasses from now on.
Maybe the reason that liberal MLA's are not coming forward(if that is even true) is that this is one of the most secretive top down governments we have experienced.The Mla's are intimidated by Gordo and his henchmen. As well there are many things which to hide and be ashamed of for this group.Today Oppal comes out and blames the judiciary for releasing the man in Victoria who killed himself and his family.This is convenient as it appeals to those who blame the court systmem when clearly the liberl changes to how family violence is handled along with the incredible cuts and closures in the court system, and the unspoken push to keep offenders out of jail for cost reasons make this the height of hypocrisy.As well announcing a Mental Health plan is a reponse to an area that Liberls are weak in public perception.It is called perception managament and there is no intent to really do anything about this except in the press or with half ass measures. Your criticism of Holman is really about your partisan focus as many NDP'ers would share that Holman is biased against them.Maybe you need to read journalism ethics, look at the Vancouver Sun and tell and preach about ethics and partisan reporting.The Liberals have their support hook ,line and sinker and so maybe you can go to bed easily and just read that paper for your cutting edge news about the liberal party.Good night Kevin and gee , thanks for staying with us Mr.Right winger.You have a heart of .... of... sensitivity to what must be a difficult task, and that is being a blind partisan when there are so many disgusting things to stomach from this government.i guess it makes you feel better if the NDP is blamed too as it makes it okay to live with yourself and your partisan views.

Well, this obviously makes great political fodder for all sides, but forgive me for suggesting that the folks above may be missing the forest for the trees.

There is a serious lack of accountability and serious deficits in the system (and also perhaps some good success stories that could be learnt from, if only someone would look). And the kind of individual complaints resolution/ accountability that an advocate or ombudsman provides is totally different from the role played by a Minister.

One appeal for help doing the rounds of our parent support networks recently was from a family whose child was refused access to mental health services because of his autism diagnosis. They were in a deep crisis, with nowhere to turn for help, and this is clearly not an acceptable manner for a mental health system to work.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, our police department is talking about boosting their own capacity to cope with the surge in mental health issues that they are confronting on the street. It makes no sense, fiscally or from a patient care perspective, to be shifting the burden of mental health care onto police officers, but that's the reality out there.

So let's put politics and blame games aside and encourage both NDP and Liberals to put their heads together to fix this. One had the good will to draft a plan, the other to start implementing it. Clearly, we're not there yet and much more needs to be done, so let's get on with it.

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