Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, has issued the following statement in response to the release of the representative for children and youth’s (RCY) report, Time to Listen: Youth Voices on Substance Use:
“We thank the representative for children and youth for this report and for the office’s continued focus on improving the lives of children and youth in British Columbia. My ministry has been working closely with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, First Nations Health Authority, Métis Nation BC and Indigenous organizations on the development of a comprehensive mental health and substance-use system of care that meets the diverse needs of all youth.
“Youth have been an integral part of our consultation process as we work to develop B.C.’s mental health and addictions strategy, and they will continue to be as we go forward with implementation. The voices of youth from diverse backgrounds will be critical to ensuring that we transform mental health and addictions care in B.C. so it meets their needs.
“We have heard from youth and families about how difficult it is to access information about available services and to navigate a fragmented and confusing system. We recognize the importance of a seamless and co-ordinated system of care where every door is the right door and a single point of access for youth and all British Columbians, connecting them to all available mental health and substance use services.
“We will be looking closely at how young people’s needs are being met by the current continuum of care for substance use, from harm reduction through to treatment and recovery and social supports. We will work to fill gaps based on ensuring young people have access to services that are safe, evidence based and help connect them to a pathway to hope.
“With our ministry partners, we are taking a whole of government approach to ensure we address the social determinants that can often contribute to mental health and addictions challenges, including child care, housing and reducing poverty. We know that a consistent, stable and supportive home environment is key to supporting youth through all kinds of challenges, including substance use.
“Educational campaigns to reduce stigma and discrimination related to youth substance use have begun, and they will continue to be an important focus of this government.
“Our government is committed to enhancing foster-parent training materials that deal with substance use by youth, equipping foster parents with the training, tools and knowledge to be able to support youth – through open discussion without judgment.
“The ministries of Mental Health and Addictions, Health, and Children and Family Development will review the report’s recommendations carefully and work with the RCY as we continue to escalate our response to the overdose crisis and improve mental health and addictions care for all youth in our province.”