Pubdate: Fri, 25 Apr 2014
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 Vancouver Courier
Author: Mike Howell


Mayor Won't Share Details of Deliberations

Time to test your memory, people.

Remember last September when Mayor Gregor Robertson and Police Chief 
Jim Chu told us how this city was in a mental health crisis?

Remember when one month later Robertson announced at city council 
that he was creating a task force to tackle the problem of mental 
health - and addictions?

I remember all this because I wrote about it.

But, you ask, what ever happened to that task force?

I was thinking the same thing.

We're in April now and I haven't heard a peep.

So I contacted the mayor's office and discovered that not only had 
Robertson put together a task force but it had met five times.

And get this: There are 67 people on the task force!

And, it seems, everybody in this town connected to the issue of 
mental health and addictions is a member.

Here's some names you may be familiar with: Dr. Patricia Daly of 
Vancouver Coastal Health, B.C. Housing CEO Shayne Ramsay, Marjorie 
White of the Aboriginal Mothers' Centre, Rob Turnbull of the 
Streetohome Foundation, Darrell Burnham of Coast Mental Health, Dave 
Hamm of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, Karen O'Shannacery 
of Lookout Emergency Aid Society and, well, the list goes on.

Of course, Chu is on the task force.

There's also people from the ministry of health, Corrections, the 
Vancouver Police Board, the psychiatry department at the University 
of B.C., the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, Providence Health 
(which oversees St. Paul's Hospital) and a dozen folks from the City 
of Vancouver, including chief housing officer Mukhtar Latif.

After I went through the list, I wondered how such a diverse group 
could reach a consensus on moving forward with recommendations.

So I caught up with the man himself - Mr. Mayor - last week and asked him.

"There's a lot of consensus around the table for next steps," 
Robertson said. "With mental health, there's so many major changes 
needed and great ideas emerging from the task force that are getting 
widespread support in the room."

But what that "widespread support" is for, is not something the mayor 
would share. I assume, though, it's aimed at the provincial and 
federal governments.

"I'm not at liberty to share the deliberations," said Robertson 
before making a final comment. "The problem with mental health and 
addictions continues to escalate and the task force is really focused 
on how to improve the overall system and ensure people in greatest 
need get treatment."

A report is expected to go before council in July.

For the record: Just so you know, when I interview the mayor or the 
chief, it's usually in a scrum and they only take a few questions 
before us media types get shut down. It's rare that I get a 
one-on-one with either of them. So I reluctantly have to take what I 
can get - and what you read is what I got. Onto the next scrum...
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom