Not the left that brought closure of Riverview

Simple history check will tell what political ideology at play during the majority of those 25 years

Not the left that brought closure of Riverview

I am astonished at the amount of misinformation and straight up ignorance April Gibson’s letter represents regarding the closure of mental health institutions, human rights, and political positioning.

Taken from the UBCMJ 2009: In British Columbia, thousands of psychiatric patients at Riverview Hospital have been transferred to the community since the 1990s. Funds saved by this trend have not been allocated to provide necessary supports to mentally ill people in the community. Due to a deficiency in mental health resources, this population is at risk for homelessness, drug abuse, incarceration in jail, and suicide.

This deplorable situation can be laid directly at the feet of the Social Credit and BC Liberals, despite April Gibson’s guarantees, two very fiscally and socially conservative parties. She is correct in thinking that it had nothing to do with treating people with dignity and respect or caring for our vulnerable citizens. It was, however, all about the mighty dollar.

A draft plan for the closure of Riverview was written in 1987 and the institution’s doors were finally shut in 2012. A simple history check will tell you what political ideology was at play during the majority of those 25 years. Spoiler alert, it was not the progressive left.

People like April Gibson are a big part of the problem. They support conservatism without understanding the impacts beyond their own self interest. They want cheap goods and do not want to pay taxes, but they hate what happens when the inevitable consequences and funding cuts impact their quality of life. They do not seem to like living in a society that does not adequately care for its sick and vulnerable members and yet do not want to pay for the privilege of living in a society that does.

I am sure that April Gibson is not trying to say that she thinks we should just incarcerate everyone who needs care and support or somehow remove anyone who challenges our delicate sensibilities from view. At least I certainly hope she is not trying to say those things. I assume she will agree that even though human rights are a costly and difficult thing to grant to all citizens it is the ideal we strive for.

There is plenty of interesting, and yes horrifying, information on the history of asylums and mental health institutions in B.C. Before we start making decisions about the future or declaring opinions about the present, familiarizing ourselves with the past might prove helpful.

Dara Quast

Cobble Hill


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