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Powell River Council supports motion for peer-assisted care team

“This provides an opportunity to support the RCMP not having to respond to as many non-enforcement social issue mental health-related calls." ~ councillor Trina Isakson
PILOT PROJECT: City of Powell River Council will advocate for the region to be selected for a pilot project implementing a peer-assisted care team to respond to mental health crisis calls.

City of Powell River Council strongly supports having the city selected for implementation of a peer-assisted care team (PACT).

At the August 17 city council meeting, councillors considered a motion brought forward by councillor Trina Isakson regarding the peer-assisted care team, which is a mobile civilian response to mental health crisis calls, with an aim to respond to people in distress as an alternative to the RCMP, and to provide a community-based, client-centred, trauma-informed response centred on the mental health and well-being of the affected individual, their family and their community, according to Isakson’s motion.

Isakson said to give a bit of background to this topic, she and councillors George Doubt and Rob Southcott attended a conference where the PACT was introduced. She said she sat in on a call with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), which is running pilot projects on behalf of the provincial government.

Isakson said CMHA put out a call for people to recommend their communities. The first round of pilot projects includes New Westminster, Victoria and North Vancouver.

“They are looking for a series of other pilots,” said Isakson. “I submitted a recommendation for our community and I know a number of other people did as well. There was an announcement of new communities chosen and the Comox Valley is one of them.

“There are four more pilots that will be announced and I’m hoping we can do advocacy to be chosen as a city, or, as a region, with qathet Regional District and Tla’amin Nation.”

Isakson said this is not about creating a new city program that involves new staff. This is supporting something that would be developed in the community through the leadership of the CMHA BC division.

“It’s a fully funded program by the province,” said Isakson. “This provides an opportunity to support the RCMP not having to respond to as many non-enforcement social issue mental health-related calls."

Mayor Ron Woznow said when he was in charge of the Powell River Senior Citizens Association; he also chaired Powell River Assist, and there was a discussion with a number of other community organizations about the need to have 24-hour response for people in need.

“As a consequence, Powell River Assist took on the initiative to pull together all the numbers that were available,” said Woznow. “This, subsequently, was made available to doctors, dentists and emergency response people.

“When I did the research on the PACT program, I found out that New Westminster operates from noon to 8 pm. My recommendation is, before taking this further, that you consult with inclusion Powell River, and find out whether there is a need for this service, and in fact, if it is a service that is only going to operate sometime, like noon to 8.”

Isakson said the mental health association does a lot of groundwork.

“If they want to explore it with us, they would be reaching out to figure out what makes sense in our community,” said Isakson. “Every community is a little bit different and CMHA does the outreach.”

Doubt said the way to get the program active in the community is to reach out to the minister of mental health and addictions, indicating that it’s wanted and supported.

Southcott said an application had been made by Kathryn Colby of Lift Community Services on behalf of the city, Lift, the RCMP and Tla’amin Health.

“I suggested it would probably be a good idea if we worked together with Tla’amin Nation and qathet Regional District to advocate for this on the next application so we have a unified front,” said Southcott. “I suggest we ask staff to reach out to the other governments to see if there can’t be a coordinated application.”

Isakson said there is no application process. She said the website encourages people to recommend their community.

“I know a number of agencies had, but there is not an application process for a specific organization to take responsibility for it,” said Isakson. “I do agree that a coordinated response would be fantastic.

“I’m proposing we perform an advocacy role and demonstrate our support in general. The provincial government and CMHA are working behind the scenes to figure out where the best places might be. Our role is to let them know that we as a city council support consideration of our community.”

Council voted unanimously that the mayor write to the regional district and Tla’amin to encourage similar pledges of support and that the mayor write to the minister to indicate council support.

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