Independent candidate Moe Gill has called on the next government to place a higher focus on mental health.
Gill – who is running in Abbotsford West – held a press conference on Thursday afternoon, during which he outlined plans for dealing with mental health care in B.C., including creating a separate agency to deliver mental health services that does not rely on the general health care budget, similar to the B.C. cancer agency.
The announcement was attended by members of the Brar family, whose daughter Shaminder was killed in a hit-and-run in February in Abbotsford.
Brar struggled with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and friends said the failure of the mental health system contributed to her death. Gill said he has known the Brar family for many years, and his involvement with the family has driven his desire to take a stance on mental health issues in B.C.
Gill said that one in four British Columbians suffers from some form of mental illness, and providing more preventative care will ease the burden on the health care system and help vulnerable citizens.
“We are here today to call on the next government of British Columbia to stop ignoring mental health issues and start advocating for solutions.”
Gill said the government needs to adopt the 2009 recommendations of B.C. physicians on mental health. Those include working with the federal government to ensure transfer payments for mental health funding, matching other medical services as mandated under the Canada Health acts, establishing a straightforward system of tracking funds and resources for mental health care and creating incentives for employers to implement a workplace mental health strategy based on a provincial standard.
Gill said that as an independent MLA, he would be able to fight for better mental health care because he would not be tied by party politics.