Losing a loved one is hard enough, people shouldn’t have to pay for bereavement counselling.
That’s the sentiment behind a Port Moody-sponsored resolution that passed at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Whistler last week.
Presented by Port Moody Coun. Amy Lubik, the resolution asked for bereavement services to be included in the B.C. Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.
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The resolution stems from a presentation to Port Moody’s Seniors Focus Committee, which Lubik co-chairs alongside Coun. Diana Dilworth. At a November 2021 meeting, the committee heard from Crossroads Hospice Society, a non-profit organization that provides hospice and bereavement support in the Tri Cities.
During the presentation, the committee heard that there is no publicly-funded support for bereavement services in the province.
“When we think about grief, it’s a really complicated emotion and a really complicated thing to go through,” says Lubik. “So having support when people are dealing with this, is so important to our community members.”
Counselling is not funded by B.C’s MSP. It may be included in employer health plans, but sessions may be limited.
“With very complicated emotions and processes like grief, it’s not something you can really do over one or two sessions,” says Lubik.
While bereavement services are offered by organizations like Crossroads, it can be hard to get a spot and funding is limited.
“We all know that it’s very difficult to get mental health help at the best of times,” says Lubik.
While the city has grants available, they are not at the scale Crossroads would need.
The recommendation out of the committee was that bereavement services be part of a bigger strategy, such as B.C’s “A Pathway to Hope,” a 10-year guideline that kicked off in 2019.
The UBCM membership has previously endorsed resolutions related to calling on the province to improve funding and resources for mental health and addiction services as far back as 2005.
The resolution requires support from the province.