A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

24 March 2008

The "Cost" of a Caring Society

A new report suggests that my home province could save millions of dollars by ...
Housing the homeless?

The paper - entitled "Housing and Support for Adults With Severe Addictions and/or Mental Illnesses in British Columbia" - says providing non-housing services for such people costs the public system more than $55,000 per year per person.

It says providing adequate housing and supports could reduce this cost to $37,000 per year.

The team of researchers - from SFU, the University of British Columbia and the University of Calgary - says the overall "cost avoidance" of such a plan is about $211 million per year.
Occasionally I find myself in an argument over social programs such as welfare and the medical system with well-meaning people who say things such as: "Well it's a great idea in theory, but look at the cost."

In this particular case, the cost would actually be negative. Though in any case, the imagined costs of social programs tend to be overestimated relative to the benefits.

Still, given the track record of the "fiscally prudent" BC Liberals (who in any other province would be considered very conservative indeed), I'm not holding my breath.

Prediction: Lots of government officials, including the Premier, will be photographed opening things having to do with the Olympics.

There will be at least twelve times as many such photos as there will be of ministers opening mental health and addiction treatment centres.

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At 11:16 a.m., Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

I just saw this article in the Vancouver Sun yesterday. I wasn't surprised!

A couple of months ago, the Vancouver mayor announced that they are going to build SOME mental health facilities to replace the ones that the Liberals closed when they first came into office - because they'd just realized that deinstitutionalization DOESN'T work!

No kidding! It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. In the meantime, god knows how many people (well...we have numbers now, don't we?) were made homeless and suffered horribly as a result.

And don't get me started about 2010! It disgusts me.

I am one of the people in those statistics, being mentally ill and receiving provincial support (not as much as my CPP is the bulk of my income), but I was lucky enough to have a family in my life to take me in and get me back on my feet, and I was very fortunate to find affordable housing for myself when the time came to move out on my own again. I completely realize this is not something everyone is fortunate enough to have.

At 2:10 p.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Bonsoir, Monsieur Metro

Encore, you et la Nord-Americaine WildHund divers bons points [or is it bonnes pointes ?] about an area of life about which this Eagle's understanding & experience is so limited

AND it is so encouraging to see WC's excellent GolB demonstrating daily that a way through a dark tunnel can be found

Indeed, we do need to consider the costs of a non-caring society

.... and a well-thought out Support-Policy, with adequately-funded resources may well be better and cheaper than a curmudgeonly cheap & nasty policy

but I vorry

Here in Inglaterra, a few years ago, we had a Marvellous Policy called "Care in the Community"

I don't expect you dEvolutionists to understand such profound TheoLogical matters, but the theory seems to have been :

1. Keeping Mentally-ill people in Institutions was undesirable - there was some muttering about abuse of human rights, but one suspects that this was of little moment - one suspects that it was the vast expense that the bureaucratic bean-counters cared about

2. ergo - close as many Mental Hospitals as possible ... with as little thought as possible .... and as speedily as possible


3. DUMP their inhabitants on the Community :

3.1 regardless of the wishes or interests of the Mentally-ill - many did not want to leave what had become their Homes for many decades

3.2 at a minimum of cost to the public purse (which translated into Canuckistani means "with inadequate support facilities" and "with inadequate thought or care about how best to do it or about the likely consequences")

I hope you Kolonials will learn from our deplorable example, rather than following it

Yr obedt servant etc

G Eagle

At 2:15 p.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

errr... embarrassed shuffling from one talon to the next ... and back again ....

Encore, you et la Nord-Americaine WildHund --- MAKE --- divers bons points ....

It's si difficile typing with these talons

Allas Gute


At 7:07 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

@G. Eagle:

The situation we have here, and which applies to pretty much every North American jurisdiction, is similar.

In the 80s, "de-institutionalization" gained currency. There was less stigma attached, and theoretically far fewer tax dollars, than keeping all the bedlams open.

No-one seems to have ever taken seriously the damage done by suicide, addiction, homelessness, and by families striving at their wits' ends to care for unmanageable relations.

I recall taking a friend home to her apartment in an extremely rural area. Walking along the road we saw a rather good-looking native man.

"Stop," she cried, "That's my boyfriend's cousin!"

He was supposed to be self-medicating while living at home. But since he was very schizophrenic and unable to organize himself, he tended to forget his medicines.

Until that year, since the aunt who looked after him was working, a community service nurse had come by to ensure he took his handful of pills.

Then they cut the nurse. The results were obvious. He would disappear for days at a time, be brought home by police, be unmanageable for a while and then disappear again.

A friend of my mother's lost her children to foster care. She was obsessive, and collected newspapers. The original solution, circa 1976, was to send a care worker round to collect and throw out the papers.

In 1980, this was eliminated as a "needless expense" (cost: estimated at $8,000 1976 bucks per year). Within a year the kids were in care (cost: estimated at $25,000 per year plus court time and the social effects on foster kids).

A family friend is raising a Fetal-Alcohol-Syndrome kid who's also schizophrenic and pyromaniac. The police used to bring him home about every third day. Finally he reached the age of majority and could be locked up in a prison for the mentally handicapped.

The list goes on and on ...

BC is beginning to wake up. Even the notoriously tight-fisted provincial liberal government are taking another look at re-opening some addiction and mental-health care beds. I'm hopeful, but not optimistic.

At 11:01 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're very conscious of the fact that, since they threw those people out on the street, the ones who haven't died are still there, out on the street where any tourist can look at them.

Someone at Pivot told me that the biggest landowner on the DTES is in fact the City of Vancouver. And someone who works for the City told me that it is their intention to strip the interiors of those buildings, bring them up to code, and let them just sit there, empty. Hundreds and hundreds of low-cost housing units have been taken off the market in this way. If it weren't the government, we'd call it "putting them on ice till the Olympics" but of course our government would never do such a thing!



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