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Assisted care program coveted by City of Powell River not coming

Update provided at committee of the whole meeting; no plans for expansion over and above six other cities
INTEREST EXPRESSED: City of Powell River Council has applied for a Peer Assisted Care Team and was hoping to be part of an expansion, but was advised by the minister of mental health and addictions that the province is going to stick with the six communities that have been selected.

While City of Powell River has expressed interest in participating in the provincial Peer Assisted Care Team (PACT) program, at this time, the province has not announced expansion.

At the May 14 committee of the whole meeting, councillor Trina Isakson said the city had received a letter from the provincial minister of mental health and addictions related to a motion she put forward regarding the desire to establish PACT here. She said council adopted the motion unanimously. Isakson asked for the matter to be on the committee’s agenda so that the community would have an update on PACT.

“There was wide support for this in the conversations I had with people, for example, at ratepayer society meetings,” said Isakson. “They [the province] were going to announce an expansion for additional communities, but by the looks of this letter, they decided to take a wait and see approach and take some time to look at the results of the first six communities that are initiating PACT.

“I didn’t see here that we were not selected, it’s just that they are not announcing more in the future. Hopefully, when they get the results, we are still on the table for expansion in the future. It’s disappointing that they are not taking action at this time.”

In the correspondence, minister of mental health and addictions Jennifer Whiteside stated that PACT is a new, innovative program that shifts BC’s crisis care to a community-based, client-centred, trauma-informed response centred on mental health and well-being of the person, their family and the community.

“Early data from the teams that are currently operating show that PACTs reduce calls to law enforcement and are effective in connecting people to the care and support that they need during their time of crisis,” stated Whiteside.

Three PACTs are operational on Vancouver’s North Shore, in New Westminster and in Victoria, with three more having been announced for Kamloops, Comox and Prince George.

“We are carefully monitoring the implementation of the existing teams,” stated Whiteside, “and gathering evidence of how this service intersects with law enforcement and our mental health care system.”

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