Local government leaders have direct knowledge about how mental health crises are handled in their municipality or regional district. Their input into provincial system changes is imperative to make sure that new systems meet the particular needs of their communities.
In May 2022, Network Chair Stacy Ashton met with local leaders at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) annual conference. The conference created an opportunity for the Network to speak with municipal government leaders about the integration of crisis lines with 9-1-1, funding the integration and upgrades to the emergency response services through the 9-1-1 wireless call levy, and the creation of a mental health crisis response system.
At the Union of BC Municipalities Convention held in September 2022, the membership of UBCM put forward resolution EB42: New Provincial Mandate and Funding for 9-1-1, asking the Province for an equitable funding solution for BC’s crisis response services.
The BC Crisis Line Network launched a province-wide campaign, engaging with all local government leaders to inform them of the critical work being done by the Network’s members and encouraging them to vote in favour of resolution EB42. “A vote for Resolution EB42 is a vote towards ensuring every British Columbian, regardless of where they live in the province, has the right to equitable and easy access to mental health crisis support - the kind of support BC crisis lines have been delivering for over fifty years,” stated the Network's appeal letter.
The resolution passed and following the 2022 municipal elections, the Network approached the newly elected counsellors and mayors to garner more detailed input through a survey. The goal of the survey was to collect feedback from the local government leaders on aspects of the proposed mental health crisis response system, as well as hear from the leaders about what would work best for their particular communities. The information gained from this survey of BC local leaders will be summarized in a report to be presented at the Local Governance Association conferences in the Spring 2023 and used to inform the Network’s systems change advocacy and planning efforts.