VICTORIA, B.C. - Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, is calling on the BC NDP to begin the process of regulating private mental health and addictions treatment facilities.
“Public and private mental health and addictions facilities are failing thousands of British Columbians. It is our responsibility to ensure that these facilities are not causing more harm than good. We are trying to address a mental health crisis and the government needs to reform mental healthcare in this province. Properly regulating private treatment centres is one part of that.
“We have heard terrible stories from families of how the private facilities are the wild west of care. They’re without government oversight, without standards of care, and can charge up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for treatment.
“You walk into one of these centres as a desperate family looking to help your loved one. You’re handed a bill for $20,000 for a 30 day stay, told that individual counselling is an extra $375 an hour, and that family support groups will add another $6,500. And sadly, most of the time people leave these centres and go straight back to drugs or alcohol. Then weeks later, people are back in these facilities and being charged thousands more.
“Repeat that cycle once, twice, three times, and it’s clear that this revolving door is highly profitable for these companies.
“I’ve heard firsthand accounts from families of kids being kicked out of these private centres and driven to shelters on the Downtown Eastside, with a garbage bag full of their belongings. They were told to ‘hit rock bottom’.
“Without standards of care, these facilities are allowed to do what they wish with vulnerable people. Many see medication as a moral failure, subjecting patients to immense pressure to get off withdrawal supports like suboxone or methadone. It’s often too early and too rushed, causing many to turn back to toxic street drugs and often dying for it.
“Public facilities face waitlists of weeks to months, so many desperate families turn to out-of-pocket facilities to try to help their loved ones. This harm can’t be allowed to continue any longer.
“I call on Minister Whiteside to immediately start the work of regulating private treatment centres and preventing any further harm to those simply trying to get better.”
B.C. Green Caucus
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