In keeping with tradition, we would like to wish you all the best for the New Year. We wish you joy, success and, above all, solidarity.
In 2022, La Boussole will celebrate its 30th anniversary. We have come a long way in thirty years, but we still have a lot of work to do to combat poverty and inequality.
On the ground, we want to see the completion and implementation of measures to address the opioid crisis that has been decimating our community for far too long. 2021 has once again broken the sad record of overdose deaths. The measures taken by the government are a step in the right direction, but they are not moving fast enough. We can no longer afford to wait on long-term projects. We need to ensure access to safe products on a massive scale for everyone who needs them across the province.
We also need to make it easier for people to quickly access rehabilitation centres. They are too often faced with long waitlists. A motivated person should be able to start his or her journey as soon as possible, at the risk of losing momentum and using even more. We’ve seen this happen too many times, and it’s always a tragedy for the people we support.
Let's also talk about housing. A new home is often the starting point in the recovery of someone experiencing homelessness, and it's unrealistic to believe that a person can emerge from precarity without a decent home. The situation in Metro Vancouver does not allow us to work effectively. We need to rapidly increase the supply of decent, long-term social housing and move away from SROs - the often dilapidated hotels on the Downtown Eastside. People should be able to be housed outside this neighbourhood if they want to, especially if it helps them fight their addictions. Furthermore, a housing policy based on speculation and landlord protection works against any desire to address homelessness.
In terms of mental health care, in 2021 we launched the only French-language counselling program in the province. This program helps address an obvious need, but it's not enough. We are faced with distressed members in need of treatment, assistance and medical care. The province's infrastructure cannot adequately respond to these situations. Following a major crisis, people are hospitalized for a short time, over-medicated and put back on the street, without any follow-up, and with no other option but to start the cycle again. This process is costly, inefficient and above all inhumane.
We hope to see progress in these areas this year. As always, we will do our best to support our members through the challenges.
See you soon at the community centre, Louise Chaynes & Maxime Barbier
Co-executive directors of La Boussole