BY BILL PHILLIPS
The NDP aren’t dismantling everything the previous Liberal government put in place.
Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy was in Prince George Thursday to officially open Foundry Prince George, a new integrated youth-service centre, that was announced in June of 2016 by the Liberals.
In fact, Darcy praised Prince George Liberal MLAs Shirley Bond and Mike Morris as being driving forces behind the project and even made sure they were part of the obligatory photo-of after the announcement.
“We want to take the best ideas that there are in British Columbia, everywhere around the world and we want to build on that,” she said, adding the NDP are expanding support for Foundry centres.
Foundry Prince George is one of five Foundry centres announced by the Liberal government and six more are slated to be opened.
“Foundry really epitomizes what we want to do as a government,” she said. “It’s about bringing all of the services together … mental health, substance abuse, access to primary care, as well as support services like housing and counselling. We look to surround youth with all the services and supports we possibly can in order to give them the best possible start.”
Foundry Prince George, located on Seventh Avenue next to Youth Around Prince George, will bring existing services under one roof so families and young people can access a one-stop shop for primary care, mental health, substance use, and social services. The centre, for youth between the ages of 12 and 24 years, is hosted by the YMCA of Northern BC.
“Foundry was conceived with the notion that transforming access to youth for mental health, substance use, and primary health services required doing this work differently,” said Amanda Alexander, CEO of YMCA of Northern BC.
An interdisciplinary team offering services at Foundry will be comprised of general practitioners, nurse practitioners, mental-health and substance-use clinicians, youth and family peer support and navigation workers, youth and guardianship workers, income assistance and supported employment support, outreach workers, LGBTQ+ support and navigation, outreach workers, Aboriginal child-service social workers and other Aboriginal services.
The Ministry of Health provided $3 million to the InnerChange Foundation in March 2015 to develop the centres, and the centres are supported by additional partner funding. This includes a $1.5-million investment from the Graham Boeckh Foundation, and commitments from InnerChange Foundation and St. Paul’s Foundation to each fundraise $1.5 million.
The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research will be providing $800,000 toward the evaluation and research component. The YMCA of Northern BC has initiated a local fundraising campaign with a goal of $250,000 to support the unique capital and innovation needs of Foundry Prince George. The Ministry of Children and Family Development is also investing $255,000 over the next three years to provide space for the centre within the Prince George facility. The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation will be providing assistance through support staff.
Foundry Prince George is being supported by the Division of Family Practices and some local sponsors. Canadian Tire is sponsoring one of the talking rooms at Foundry Prince George and Integris Credit Union is sponsoring the spiritual and cultural room.