I have been following with great interest the debate (or lack of) surrounding the proposed 46-unit social housing facility in Courtenay.
The majority of the voting public believes that this is a shared responsibility, a foundation of social responsibility, and a very Canadian value.
Helping those less fortunate is part of our fabric, and something we should be proud to support. Temporary “crisis” housing will always bring a stigma of NIMBY-ism: we all believe it should exist, but we’d rather see it in someone else’s backyard.
What further complicates this issue is that the majority of residents for this type of social housing have substance abuse or mental health issues.
Over the years, the departure from previously stigmatized “institutions” and “treatment centres” have created a gap in our social safety net. Funding reductions in mental health by the province have created a category of citizen who slips between the holes in the net. People who previously would have been serviced under our provincial health system have now been ousted and rebranded as “homeless” rather than “sick.”
The problem has now been shifted from the province, to the municipality, creating an additional burden on our local services. We should support any initiative that seeks to give a helping hand to those who cannot help themselves – it’s our obligation as Canadians – but we should demand better from our provincial government and stop it from shirking its responsibility in regards to our citizenry’s healthcare.
Let’s ensure that we help those with substance abuse and mental health issues proactively, rather than putting a band-aid on the problem at the expense of municipal taxpayers.