VANCOUVER: A report from the Representative for Children and Youth shows that the Christy Clark government is failing children and families in mental health crisis, say B.C. New Democrats.

“In Christy Clark’s B.C. vulnerable children are not a priority. It’s even worse for Aboriginal children, who are forced to navigate fragmented services which often have higher waitlists than the services targeted towards other children,” said New Democrat leader John Horgan.

“It’s like a game of snakes and ladders, families move up a ladder, only to be sent tumbling back down to square one,” added New Democrat spokesperson for children and families Melanie Mark.

The representative’s report, Tragedy in Waiting: How B.C.’s mental health system failed one First Nations youth, reveals a system struggling to offer basic services to children in need through the story of a child who committed suicide after he was unable to access basic mental health services.

“Every parent hopes that if their child was in mental health crisis that there would be help available for them immediately, but Chester’s story shows us that in Christy Clark’s B.C., children in crisis are left on standby behind a 200 day wait list,” said Horgan.

Horgan noted that last Christmas, Christy Clark pledged to improve child and youth mental health services, saying “we should do more and we can do more,” and then failed to make good on her promise.

“Christy Clark has failed to adequately invest in child and youth mental health services since 2011, despite multiple reports showing that an inability to access services is putting lives at risk,” said Horgan.

Both New Democrat and Liberal MLAs endorsed recommendations made by the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth, calling for improvements to the child and youth mental health system, yet kids are still waiting.

“There is broad agreement that our child and youth mental health system is failing our children – and needs to be improved,” said Mark. “What’s missing is a government and a premier that has the will to make a difference in the lives of families.”