Mayor's Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions

The Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions is a leadership forum modelled on the four pillar approach. 

With its key partners, the task force develops solutions for better mental health and addiction services in Vancouver.

Mandate of the task force

The mandate of the task force is to help the City identify priority actions to improve quality, accessibility, and choice within the system of care for people with serious mental health and addiction issues.

How we are strengthening our response to the crisis  

City Council created the task force to strengthen our response to the immediate mental health and addiction crisis and guide key principles and actions going forward. The over 60 task force members represent:

  • People with lived experience
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Health authorities and hospitals
  • Provincial government ministries
  • Universities and more

People with lived experience are experts on evaluating the existing system of care through personal experience with mental illness and addiction.

The task force meets regularly and hosts special guests for workshops and discussions. Approximately 100 additional special guests have participated in discussions with the task force so far.

Work updates from the task force

The task force outlines 23 priority actions in its report

September 10, 2014 – The task force completed its first phase of work and outlined 23 priority actions in the report:

This report will be brought forward to Council September 17, 2014.

The task force provided recommendations to Council, and the Ministry of Health and Vancouver Coastal Health provided updates to the City and its partners

June 17, 2014 – Task force members provided input into recommendations going forward to Council in September.

The Ministry of Health provided updates on the provincial 120-day response to the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Police Department, and Vancouver Coastal Health recommendations in September 2013.

Vancouver Coastal Health updated the task force on the Downtown Eastside Second Generation Strategy.

Task force members explored gaps and emerging areas of addictions

June 11, 2014 – Special guests from VANDU (Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users) and the St. Paul’s Goldcorp Addictions Specialist Fellowship program joined task force members in exploring ways to identify priority gaps and build on emerging areas of addictions. 

Youth and task force members reviewed key priorities from the youth and aboriginal youth consultation and workshop

May 8, 2014 – Task force members and special guests (including young people with lived experience, youth-serving organizations, and health professionals) reviewed key priorities from the April 30 youth and aboriginal youth consultation. 

Kris Archie, project manager for the Youth Homelessness Initiative at the Vancouver Foundation, gave an update on work at the Vancouver Foundation, including some background on the "Fostering Change" report and recommendations from the Youth Advisory Committee.   

Youth and aboriginal youth consultation event

April 30, 2014 – The task force participated in a special youth consultation, in partnership with the Vancouver Foundation, youth, and youth-serving agencies, where participants review and prioritize key focus areas for special consideration.

Assistant deputy minister of health reported back on the mental health crisis

April 4, 2014 – Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Doug Hughes reported back on the status of the 120-day provincial response to the urgent mental health crisis.

Jonathan Oldman from The Bloom Group also presents on "Collective Impact" as a potential legacy project for the Mayor’s Task Force. Collective impact is when diverse organizations come together to solve a complex social problem.

Task force members attended youth and Aboriginal Peoples workshop

February 28, 2014 – Task force members met to explore perspectives on culturally relevant aboriginal and youth housing and support.

Task force members identified key indicators

February 21, 2014 – Task force members focused on ways to share strategic information, identify key indicators, and design a responsive, collaborative approach that will move from isolated to collective action in the mental health and addictions system.

Stigma workshop

January 31, 2014 – Members of the task force and Downtown Eastside Local Area Planning Committee attended a workshop with people who have lived experience of stigma related to mental illness and addiction 

First official meeting of the task force

December 10, 2013 – The Ministry of Health provided a presentation on the provincial response to the City, Vancouver Police Department, and Vancouver Coastal Health's letter to the premier. The letter called for four key areas of action and discussed priority recommendations for care, support, and housing for people with serious mental health and addictions.

Task force established

October 30, 2013 – The Ministry of Health presented its response to the City, Vancouver Police Department, and Vancouver Coastal Health's September 30 letter to the premier asking for action on the mental health and addictions crisis. 

Mayor hosted roundtable discussion

October 2, 2013 – The Mayor hosted a roundtable discussion—within the framework of the City’s Healthy City Strategy— about the urgent need for continued care and support for people with serious addictions and mental illness.

City and partners send letter to premier

September 2013 – The City, Vancouver Police Department, and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority sent a letter to Premier Christy Clark about the mental health crisis in Vancouver and recommend four key areas for immediate action.

City's commitment

The City is committed to continuing to work with all partners to prevent a mental health and addictions crisis and make Vancouver a safe and healthy city for all; a city where everyone feels a strong sense of belonging and inclusion. Although the City is not responsible for providing health services, it is often the first to respond when people are in a mental health and addictions crisis.

Objectives and recommendations

First phase

The task force's objectives are divided into two parts:

  1. Work on actions coming from discussions across all sectors on how to make our system of care more responsive and effective and what the City of Vancouver can specifically implement
  2. Support the work of the Ministry of Health and Vancouver Coastal in their 120-day action plan to address gaps in service, as outlined in the letter we sent to the premier in September 2013. This letter provided four recommendations for immediate action:
    1. Add 300 long-term and secure mental health treatment beds
    2. Provide more staffing at supportive housing sites to support tenants with psychiatric issues
    3. Provide more significant support through assertive community treatment (ACT) teams for psychiatric patients living in the community
    4. Develop an enhanced form of urgent care centre (crisis centre) and a joint treatment model (Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Coastal Health)

Second phase

The task force will implement its priority actions and assign key leaders.

How the task force relates to other City projects

The work of the task force aligns with the goals in the:

Task force chair

  • Dr. Penny Ballem, City Manager

Task force members

The task force is made up of leaders and representatives from the following sectors:

  • Academic researchers and doctors:
    • Dr. Bill Honer – UBC Department of Psychiatry
    • Dr. Bill MacEwan – Head of Psychiatry, St. Paul’s Hospital
    • Dr. Michael Krausz – UBC Department of Psychiatry/At Home Chez Soi
    • Dr. Julian Somers –  Lead Investigator At Home/Chez Soi, Principal Investigator, Inter Ministry Research Initiative
    • Dr. Evan Wood – UBC Director. Co-Director of the Urban Health Research Initiative, BC Centre for Excellence HIV/AIDS
    • Dr. Steve Mathias – Providence - Child and Youth Psychiatry
    • Dr. Elliot Goldner – SFU, Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addictions
    • Dr. Jim Frankish – UBC School of Population and Public Health
  • Vancouver Coastal Health:
    • Dr. Patricia Daly – Vice-President Public Health and Chief Medical Officer
    • Laura Case – Chief Operating Officer
    • Yasmin Jetha – Director, Regional Mental Health and Addictions
    • Natasha Golbeck – Director of Strategic Deployment
  • Provincial Health Authority:
    • Leslie Arnold – President of BC Mental Health and Addiction Services
  • Providence Health:
    • Dianne Doyle – CEO
  • Ministry of Health:
    • Stephen Brown – Deputy Minister
      Dr. Jeff Coleman – Clinical Advisor to Ministry of Health
      Doug Hughes – Assistant Deputy Minister
  • BC Housing:
    • Shayne Ramsey – CEO
    • Dominic Flanagan – Executive Director of Supportive Housing and Programs
  • Ministry of Justice, Corrections Branch:
    • Elenore Clark – Provincial Director, Drug Treatment Court/Strategic Operations
    • David Vallance – Regional Director, Vancouver Region of Community Corrections
  • Ministry of Social Development:
    • David Jagpal – Manager of Integration Services
  • Streetohome:
    • Rob Turnbull – President, CEO
  • Health Sciences Association of BC:
    • David Durning – Senior Labour Relations Officer
    • Miriam Sobrino – Communications Director
  • Mental health and housing policy advisors (non-government):
    • Madeleine Dion Stout – Board member, First Nations Health Board of BC
    • Debra McPherson – BC Nurses Union
  • Housing providers:
    • Greg Richmond – Executive Director, Rain City Housing
    • Janice Abbot – CEO, Atira Housing
    • Jan Radford – Nurse Practitioner, Atira
    • Jonathan Oldman – Executive Director, The Bloom Group
    • Dave MacIntyre – Executive Director, Motivation, Power and Achievement Society
    • Karen O’Shannacery – Executive Director, Lookout Emergency Aid Society
    • Krista Thompson – Executive Director, Covenant House
      David Eddy – CEO, Vancouver Native Housing Society
  • Community services and supports:
    • Peter Bazovsky – ARA Mental Health Advocate
    • Diane Sugars – Independent
    • Marjorie White – Aboriginal Mother Centre
    • Susan Tatoosh – Executive Director, Aboriginal Friendship Society
    • Michele Fortin – Executive Director, Watari and Co-Chair, BC Alliance on Mental Health and Addictions
    • Aart Schuuman-Hess – CEO, Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society
    • Dr. Philip Adilman – Community Psychiatrist
    • Michael Anhorn – Executive Director, Canadian Mental Health Association, Vancouver and Burnaby
    • Nancy Keough – Kettle Friendship Society
    • Darrell Burnham, ED – Executive Director, Coast Mental Health
  • Policy advisors and community partners:
    • David Hamm – Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan Committee member and VANDU representative
    • Karen Ward – Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan Committee member, Gallery Gachet
    • Colin Ross – At Home/Chez Soi
  • Vancouver Police Department:
    • Mary Collins – VPD Board member
    • Jim Chu – Chief Constable
    • Ralph Pauw – Inspector, Youth Services Section
    • Adam Palmer – Deputy Chief Constable
    • Dean Robinson – Superintendent
    • Howard Tran – Staff Sergeant: Mental Health Unit
  • City of Vancouver:
    • Mayor Gregor – Robertson Mayor
    • Kerry Jang – Councillor
    • Mike Magee – Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office
    • Penny Ballem – City Manager
    • Mukhtar Latif – Chief Housing officer
    • Brenda Prosken – General Manager, Community Services
    • Mary Clare Zak – Managing Director, Social Policy
    • Ethel Whitty – Director, Carnegie Community Centre
    • Abi Bond – Assistant Director, Housing Policy
    • Dianna Hurford – Housing Planner


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