VANCOUVER-QUILCHENA NDP candidate Jeanette Ashe and MLA Sheila Malcolmson said on Tuesday that BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon’s record of service cuts and harmful comments regarding mental health show he’s not working for people.
“Our province is facing significant challenges with mental health and addictions, and Kevin Falcon’s record shows he would make this crisis so much worse,” said Ashe. “For over a decade, he gave tax breaks to the top 1% while cutting hundreds of millions of dollars to mental health and addictions services while he was Minister of Health and Minister of Red Tape Reduction.”
Additionally, in 2008, Falcon was stuck in traffic after Vancouver Police closed the Ironworkers’ Memorial Bridge to help an elderly woman who was contemplating suicide. Instead of supporting the successful effort to save a life, Falcon attacked the police for inconveniencing him: “I am utterly perplexed at how it took six hours to deal with an elderly female.”
When asked if a suicide barrier should be installed, Falcon lamented that it would “cost millions of dollars” and said “if people are trying to kill themselves, it is tough to stop them.”
“It’s disgraceful for Kevin Falcon to dismiss the life of someone considering suicide because the situation inconvenienced him,” said Malcolmson. “And one year later as Health Minister, he personally cut mental health and addictions services, contributing to the crisis we see today. His record shows that he’ll put the wealthy and well-connected first and make everyone else pay for his choices.”
The NDP said that Falcon’s record includes:
- As a Cabinet Minister in 2002, he supported the BC Liberals’ massive cuts to social services, including a 23% cut to Children and Families. This included cutting $34.5 million from youth justice and mental health. This same budget included tax breaks for the top income tax bracket.
- Falcon recently defended his government’s 2002 cuts. Last week, he refused to apologize for the devastating impact of these cuts on services for sexual assault survivors.
- As Health Minister in 2009, Falcon cut $360 million from health authorities, forcing them to cut mental health and addictions services. An internal memo from the Executive Director of Coast Mental Health in Vancouver called the reductions “staggering” and “incomprehensible.”
- As Deregulation Minister in 2002, Falcon deregulated addictions treatment. The BC NDP began re-regulating these homes in 2019. This work is continuing.
- In 2011, patients at a publicly-funded addictions treatment centre were allegedly pressured to make phone calls for Falcon’s leadership campaign. Falcon has not addressed these allegations.
The NDP said that its government created Canada’s first Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and is adding services on a weekly basis.