Photo by: Niagara Region
In the midst of a housing crisis, it isn’t surprising that not only communities, but individuals are affected.
The Niagara Region took the initiative to support three areas that are intrinsically woven together: homelessness, addiction, and mental health. The City of Thorold announced a state of emergency in these three areas back in June. Since then, the City of Niagara Falls has followed suit and now become the second city in the region to declare a state of emergency.
These issues have been topical for a long time, and there’s still a long way to go to combat these problems effectively. Unfortunately, the momentum this process has gathered has been put on hold and with the elections coming up, it will now be a focus for the new year.
This is not the first time a state of emergency has been attempted. Last time, by going through the region, only 12 out of the 13 municipalities in Niagara agreed to pass the state of emergency, so it fell through.
This time, the approach went through the province to make more progress, as the federal government has the funding to help this vulnerable population. So now that it has been put on hold, what is the next step? Niagara Falls City Councillor, Wayne Campbell, answered this and some other questions about the topic:
“[The next step is to] reinstate the state of emergency through all the municipalities and request that they send it to the province,” said Campbell.
The hope is that the 12 cities in the Niagara Region that followed last time do so again, with the addition of the 13th city that denied it last time. Councillor Wayne Campbell has been one of the people leading this motion in the region and shared his personal story, which led him to fight so hard for these problems.
Seven years ago, he lost his daughter to suicide, Campbell and his family provided all the support they could give, but they found that the services in the region were not enough. They had to jump from organization to organization which led to his daughter starting over and not making any progress in dealing with her mental health.
Examples like this one show how the resources seem to be ineffective and not enough to deal with these three areas, which is why the state of emergency is being put in place. More funding needs to be provided for people who need support.
Campbell says one needs to ask where all the current funding is going. The administration seems to be taking a big chunk out of it when there are other areas that need more help. One also needs to ask when mental health will be treated like it should be.
Campbell gives the example of going into the hospital for a broken bone, or a more serious treatment such as cancer, and people will find the help and program they need. On the other hand, mental health is still stigmatized and a health condition such as depression is not given priority as “physical ailments” when it can still affect the person physically and end in an unfortunate way, such as with Campbell’s daughter.
After this unfortunate event, Campbell then attempted to start a petition for the Government of Ontario to create a ministry of mental health. Unfortunately, it fell through. An attempt to reignite this is all the Niagara municipalities joining in the state of emergency as one voice. However, this is not enough but it’s a step in the right direction.
When asked about an update, the City of Thorold declined to comment.
For more information about Thorold’s state of emergency read here.