Kamloops youth need a barrier-free place to access a one-stop-shop for mental health, addiction, sexual health and primary care services, according to a local non-profit group.
After support for a foundry centre for youth in Kamloops popped up on the local campaign trail this week, KTW spoke to the non-profit spearheading the push.
This week, Kamloops South-Thompson and Kamloops North-Thompson B.C. Liberal candidates Todd Stone and Peter Milobar pledged a foundry centre in Kamloops, should their party form government after the Oct. 24 election.
Interior Community Services chief operating officer Valerie Janz said Kamloops has been passed over for a foundry centre three times in recent years by the provincial government. Interior Community Services is the lead agency, responsible for accountability and financing. Janz, however, called it a “community project.”
Last year, ICS applied for a foundry centre for Kamloops, but was unsuccessful. Janz said the agency was told there was nothing wrong with the application and that, if more money became available, the city would get a centre. Other communities, she said, were apparently in greater need. Janz cited smaller supports available for youth in Kamloops, but she underscored the need for a foundry centre.
Janz said barriers exist for youth and families to get the services they need, due to what she called the “runaround,” in which families can get lost in the shuffle.
“Go here. Go here,” Janz said. “No, you you can’t get it here.”
In addition, a foundry centre would reduce stigma for accessing help for certain issues, Janz added.
Foundry centres are located throughout British Columbia. The centres integrate health and social services for those ages 12 to 24, providing access to mental-health care, substance-use services, primary care, social services and youth and family peer supports.
“The selling feature is that it’s a one-stop shop for youth,” Janz said. “Youth could go there and get whatever they need, in the sense of primary care, sexual health, mental health, addictions, peer support, families, programs. It’s really barrier-free, ease of access. You’re not moved around everywhere. You’re not sent to the North Shore, South Shore. It’s really just a barrier-free access point for youth and their families.”
Much of the staffing for such a centre would be provided in-kind. However, the centre would have staffing lease cost and renovation costs. Janz said one-time capital funding, and some of the operational funding, is needed.
Janz was pleased to hear of support for a centre in Kamloops this week from the two B.C. Liberal candidates. As incumbent MLAs in the Kamloops area, she said Stone and Milobar have been advocates for foundry and youth locally.
KTW reached out to local candidates from other parties for their take on issues related to youth.
Dan Hines, BC Green candidate in Kamloops South-Thompson, said he supports a foundry centre for Kamloops.
“The need for that in the community, I think, is pretty apparent,” he said. “I’m also in agreement with that.”
His party this week pledged a $1-billion investment for mental health in B.C. Hines said the plan recognizes need for intervention at younger ages.
“It is a significant investment to mental health,” Hines said. “For a lot of people, mental health would fall under their extended health-care plans. We’re bringing it into the umbrella of medical services so that it becomes universal.”
Kamloops-South Thompson B.C. NDP candidate Anna Thomas noted her party’s government created the first standalone Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and for setting up an urgent primary care centre in Kamloops, which she said breaks down barriers for help. She said expanding mental-health services is “crucial” for Kamloops, specifically for young people.
Asked if a NDP government would establish a foundry centre in Kamloops, she said 19 such locations have already been set up, with plans for eight more.
“Kamloops would obviously be ideal for one of those eight locations,” she said.
Kamloops North-Thompson independent candidate Brandon Russell is the youngest candidate in the local campaign race. The 19-year-old said issues related to youth are varied, but include jobs, climate change and housing affordability.
Russell said that, due to layoffs amid the pandemic, jobs typically held by youth, such as fast-food attendants, are being taken by more experienced workers. He said the younger generation is also concerned about climate change and he added he is disappointed by a lack of a plan to transition away from fossil fuels from the major political parties.
On the issue of housing affordability, Russell suggested looking overseas to Scandinavian countries for ideas.
“We’re seeing ideas such as Norway, Denmark have all of these really great housing platforms that we could benefit from,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of them make kind of communities out of it [housing] rather than just an independent housing platform. They have all of the styles of a traditional community. They’ve got a grocery store, they’ve got a recreation centre.”