EDITORIAL: Morally right, fiscally smart

Providing more support to youth dealing with mental illness, substance use and other issues is both the right thing to do and fiscally smart

Foundry BC executive director Dr. Steve Mathias speaks at the unveiling of Foundry Abbotsford

Foundry BC executive director Dr. Steve Mathias speaks at the unveiling of Foundry Abbotsford

It may be lost on some in the pre-election shuffle, but it bears highlighting the importance of the impending opening of Foundry Abbotsford, where youth will be able to get help with a variety of issues, including mental health, substance use and social services.

As we’ve documented in the past, youth with mental illnesses have faced an uphill battle to get the treatment they need to go on to live happy, fulfilling lives.

Hopefully Foundry Abbotsford will address some of those issues.

Over the last two months, the provincial government has announced more than $165 million in funding for a range of projects.

The government has promised an expanded emergency room and new courthouse, and cut the ribbon on a new supportive housing project.

One thing ties those projects together: They all attempt to treat symptoms of problems that often appear much earlier in life, and which frequently go unaddressed.

Men and women with mental health and substance use issues are more likely to find themselves in court, using the emergency room and in need of housing than those without such problems.

The main goal of something like Foundry is, and should be, helping those men and women improve their quality of life for years going forward.

But it’s also worth noting that money spent helping youth can, if applied correctly, result in massive savings elsewhere in society.

Helping our province’s youth is not something that should depend on the size of government’s surplus or deficit.

Rather improving outcomes for children and teens with mental health, substance use and other serious issues is not only intrinsically good, but it’s also the fiscally prudent thing to do.