Premier non-committal on RCMP request for expansion of mental health teams

Horgan response to RCMP

Premier John Horgan was non-committal when asked about the Southeast District RCMP’s goal to have a mental health nurse respond to every mental health call in the region.

Chief superintendent Brad Haugli made the call Thursday, while addressing a video of a violent wellness check involving a UBCO student earlier this year. 

Horgan said the Legislature will be forming a standing committee involving all political parties to embark on the first review in about 40 years of B.C.’s Police Act.

He said the review will attempt to ensure that there is consistent policing services across the province, between municipal forces in the Lower Mainland and the RCMP in the Interior. 

“It will look at how we can ensure that appropriate funding is in place for mental health services, for addressing other non-essential needs that law enforcement have found themselves doing over the past number of years,” Horgan said.

“Our focus is on modernizing the Act, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take action while that is underway and we are going to collaborate with municipal leaders as they look at the challenges and needs in their communities.”

“We are going to work with communities to make sure we get this right,” he added. “We just can’t allow this moment in time to go by, the public, the community wants to have this discussion, that's the time to have it.”

Haugli said Thursday that RCMP in the Southeast District responded to 15,099 mental health calls in 2019, a 21 per cent increase from 2016. In the first five months of 2020, officers responded to 6,446 occurrences, and the month of May recorded the highest number of calls ever recorded totalling 1,456.

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