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Updated: Richmond council pushes province to keep crisis lines local

CHIMO is sounding the alarm on the province's move to centralize crisis services
Chimo Crisis Line
On the Crisis Line, Chimo volunteers provide emotional support to callers facing a diverse array of issues.

Richmond city council doesn’t want to see crisis lines contracted out to private companies.

They will send a letter stating as much to the provincial government, which is in the process of requesting proposals to increase centralization of services as it upgrades its technology.

CHIMO Community Services appealed to Richmond’s mayor in a letter to put pressure on the province to stop this process.

The fear is the 1-800-SUICIDE line and other “distress lines” will go to a private for-profit corporation, explained Kathy Nakhleh, manager of new initiatives and crisis lines with CHIMO, in her letter.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, at Monday’s general purposes committee meeting, pointed out some call centres are located 10,000 miles away.

He wanted to see the service, which deal with people in mental health crises or contemplating suicide, kept local and pointed out CHIMO has done a good job providing this service thus far.

“Where it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Brodie said.

City staff clarified the province wants these services to be done by each health authority. Currently, crisis lines in Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) are done by a non-profit in Vancouver and CHIMO.

While Nakhleh states in her letter the province is currently “dramatically” increasing funding and centralizing technology for crisis lines, the “bad news” is crisis centres will have to prepare proposals to bid on the contract while the demand on their services is at an all-time high.

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