B.C.’s finance minister announced $4 billion in new funding over three years for enhancements in health, mental health and pandemic response, as she delivered her first budget on Monday. The majority of the funding, $3.1 billion over three years, goes toward health and mental-health care, with $900 million allocated for pandemic response in 2021-22. The budget contains $500 million over three years to improve mental-health and addictions services amid an overdose crisis that was declared a public-health emergency five years ago this month. The province says it will provide more mental-health support in schools and continue to expand Foundry Centres, “doubling the number by 2024.”

While critics say the investment is not enough to create more needed treatment beds and that mental health accounts for a fraction of what’s spent in the Health Ministry budget, [finance minister Selina Robinson] calls the investment “historic.”

The budget includes $61 million to improve access to and quality of mental-health services, $14 million for the First Nations Health Authority to deliver mental health and addictions services to Indigenous people, $330 million to provide substance-use treatment and recovery services, including opioid treatment, and 195 new substance-use treatment and recovery beds.  Read the full article at The Times Colonist…

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