Lack of funding cuts deeply into family support program

Unsettling news from our member organization, the BC Schizophrenia Society, which will be significantly reducing its family support program in the Fraser Valley at the end of November 2018.

The program had been funded by the Fraser Health Authority up until October 2017, and then kept going for another year through short-term funding cobbled together from a variety of sources.

“At this time, after careful reflection and review, BCSS has had to make some tough decisions,” the society reports on its website. “It is with deep regret that BCSS has to inform everyone at this time that we can no longer support the entire Fraser region.”

Services will be suspended in all areas within the Fraser region as of Nov. 30 except for limited services in the Fraser Central area – Mission, Langley, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

These kinds of cuts to valued and necessary programs are a sad example of what happens when social health and wellbeing is treated like a frill rather than a necessity. The BCSS monthly groups are led by trained facilitators and are vital supports for families, loved ones and friends of people with mental illness. Guest speakers also introduced families to new resources and information about mental illness.

Without an overarching provincial strategy for social health and a commitment to sustain them, senseless cuts to great programs will continue to happen throughout the community non-profit sector. It’s no way to fund a social health system, relying on bits of temporary funding to support people through some of the biggest crises of their lives.

BCSS has submitted a proposal to the BC government for more funding for all BCSS services province-wide, including funding to bring back services to the entire Fraser Region. “We are encouraging our families to reach out to their local MLA in support of BCSS program funding.”