Deal makes passionate plea for mental health advocate

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

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which way to go?
The signs are pointing in different directions when it comes to Vision's support for a mental health advocate in Vancouver

In February 2008 when Vision Vancouver was in opposition on council, they introduced a motion asking the previous NPA administration to establish a new mental health advocate. After forming government, Vision then introduced a similar, but slightly watered down version of that motion in January 2009. However, the Vancouver Courier reported last week that Vision now plans to renege on their high-profile campaign promise.

As a result, we sent our crack research team back into the audio vaults to see what types of arguments Councillor Heather Deal and her colleagues made when they first introduced their motion. What follows are excerpts from Deal's passionate speech delivered in the chamber whereby she calls upon council to vote for the advocate position:

I think it's very important that we have a mental health advocate in the City of Vancouver...

We are looking here for a long-term solution. We are not looking for a fix that gets people off the streets between now and 2010...

We need someone who can talk to the other levels of government to find out what is coming up...

To me it only makes sense that we have this advocate here at the city to ensure we are working with other levels of government. To ensure we are working with the prevention pillar. To ensure that we are looking at a long-term strategy for the city in how we can deal with mental illness.

It seems to me like a clearly obvious thing to support at this time in our history...

Deal was the first speaker on her feet when the debate started last February, but she certainly wasn't the last to condemn the NPA for not supporting the mental health advocate position. She was followed by a number of other Vision/COPE councillors who also argued for about an hour the urgent need for Vancouver to hire a mental health advocate. The motion was eventually defeated by the NPA councillors who felt it was best that issues relating to mental health were left in the hands of the provincial government who had the resources and jurisdictional responsibility to tackle the problem.

Despite the recent headlines in the Courier, Mayor Gregor Robertson seems to believe the idea of hiring an advocate might not be quite dead yet. He told CKNW radio that the headlines don't necessarily reflect current thinking by the Vision caucus. It will be interesting to see if all these mixed signals get cleared up sometime later this week. I somehow think they will.

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