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B.C. government announces northern mental health, childcare, social funding

Communities near LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink projects can apply for project funding.
Newly announced projects include more daycare spaces.

Victoria has poured multiple millions into assisting British Columbians get through and recover from multiple crises in the past 18 months, B.C.’s minister of municipal affairs told Union of BC Municipalities annual convention delegates Sept. 14.

Josie Osborne said those crises include the pandemic, forest fires and the locating of hundreds of  Indigenous residential school children’s graves.

Added to that, she said, have been shocking incidents of racism and discrimination arising from the pandemic as well as the continuing increase in the body count due to the ongoing opioid health crisis.

Osborne said recovery from all those challenges means communities working together after a period of isolation where people found new ways to build community and support each other.

As part of that work, Osborne announced nine projects to be funded under the $25-million Northern Healthy Communities Fund announced in May 2020.

In the new round of funding, nine projects in communities experiencing resource industry growth are receiving nearly $850,000 to support new and expanded local services. Eligible local governments, First Nations and non-profit organizations that provide supports and services to people in growing communities near the LNG Canada and Coastal Gas Link projects can apply for project funding.

Newly announced projects include:

• More access to child and youth programs as well as expanded job placement and training programs with the expansion of the Fort. St. John Friendship Society building;

• Renovations to the South Peace Child Development Centre will provide more daycare spaces and better access to childcare for Dawson Creek families; and

• Upgrades to the Link Food Centre, making it safer and more efficient for staff to operate and serve vulnerable people in Burns Lake with improved food security.

“These latest projects really exemplify the intent of the fund to improve and sustain crucial social services in communities experiencing swift growth,” Northern Development Initiative Trust CEO Joel McKay said. 

“Food security, childcare and counselling are essential supports for safe and healthy places to live and work,” he said.

Osborne, Tofino’s former mayor, highlighted the $30-million 150 Time Immemorial grant program will fund projects that educate people about B.C.’s colonial past, advance reconciliation and promote inclusivity and diversity for the province’s future. 

Indigenous communities, local governments and not-for-profit heritage organizations with an Indigenous or heritage mandate are eligible to submit applications starting in fall 2021 for the program administered through the First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation and Heritage BC.

The funds are on top of the $12 million the province has committed for assistance in residential school grave location and research.