24 January 2023
Mayor Kate Rogers
City of Fredericton
397 Queen St., Fredericton NB
Via email: email@example.com
Re: Mental Health and Addictions Strategy
Dear Mayor Rogers:
Mental health issues are sometimes referred to as “invisible illnesses” due to their personal and internal nature. However, it is becoming increasingly easy to see the effects of the growing mental health crisis manifesting in our community through the effects of addiction, crime and homelessness.
Municipal governments are often on the frontlines of these issues in communities, primarily through local police forces, but we understand that they lack the capacity, resources and infrastructure to effectively help individuals with mental health needs or to protect individuals, businesses and organizations from the downstream effects – vandalism, theft and violence. In fact, addiction has come to the forefront of national business issues, with delegates of the 2022 Canadian Chamber of Commerce conference passing a policy resolution titled “The Economics of Addiction”. Recommendations include:
“That the Government of Canada:
- Undertake an evidence-based coordinated approach to intox, detox and supportive housing that supports access and has limited barriers to entry.
- Seek national business support in providing access to employment opportunities that will help both prevention and recovery/reintegration efforts.
- Identify how the federal government can prevent overdose related deaths, substance abuse and ameliorate its impacts.
- Work with all three levels of government, Indigenous peoples, the business community, and the not-for-profit sector to maintain an active network that works together to advance these recommendations.”
While municipal governments (and related entities) in our communities have tried to take the lead on mental health and related issues, it has become increasingly clear that a coordinated effort between municipal and provincial governments is required. In our most recent member survey, issues such as public safety and homelessness saw a significant increase in responses from our members as concerns for their businesses and organizations (and their community).
While the recent population growth over the past five years has been a boon in many ways – we have been collectively unprepared for this growth on several fronts (housing being another) and the public safety issue has grown in scope and spiraled from our downtowns to become a city-wide issue.
Late in 2022, the chambers of commerce jointly wrote to the provincial government calling for coordination amongst our municipal and provincial governments through individualized urban mental health strategies – tailored to each of our communities’ needs.
We are requesting that your government immediately engage with representatives from the provincial government to create strategies and action plans that can deliver the resources, infrastructure and policy needed to make our communities safe and provide individuals and organizations with the help they need to address this growing problem.
CEO, Fredericton Chamber of Commerce
cc: Steven Hart, CAO, City of Fredericton
cc: Sara DeGrace, Deputy CAO, City of Fredericton