Friday, January 29, 2010

Save Citizen’s Counselling

Hi Everybody,

Citizen’s Counselling is an incredible service that offers free or low-cost counselling. It is 99% powered by volunteer energy – why can’t our government come through with just a little bit of support to keep these volunteers doing their valuable work?!

Here is a letter from a number of south Island MLAs that was sent today to Howard Waldner, President and CEO of VIHA. You can send your own message to and/or to the Times Colonist at


Howard Waldner, President and Chief Executive Officer
Vancouver Island Health Authority
1952 Bay Street
Victoria, British Columbia
V8R 1J8

January 29, 2010

Dear Howard Waldner:

We are writing to express our concern over VIHA’s recent decision to terminate its contract with the Greater Victoria Citizens’ Counselling Centre. The $80,000 annual contract allowed the Centre to provide affordable counselling to over 1,200 people a year living in the region and it’s our understanding that demand for the Centre’s services has increased by 25% this year alone. Counselling is provided by individuals who have taken the Centre’s intensive 10-month training program, are professionals with advanced degrees and training, or are practicum students obtaining graduate degrees in counselling. All offer their services on a volunteer basis and work under the supervision of the Centre’s contracted professional supervisors.

We have all heard from constituents who have benefited from the services provided by Citizens’ Counselling and are upset and angered by VIHA’s decision. These individuals required counselling support and, due to personal finances, would not have been able to receive assistance were it not for Citizens ‘ policy which states that every person has the right to access quality counselling services regardless of ability to pay. To that effect, the Centre has a sliding fee scale based on family income.

The Centre has now been forced to close its doors as they have been unable to find a private insurance carrier to replace the insurance previously provided under VIHA’s contract. Until the Centre has insurance all counselling sessions will be cancelled.

We urge you to re-consider your decision to cancel the contract for the Greater Victoria Citizens’ Counselling Centre, especially during these difficult economic times, when individuals and families are experiencing increased stresses. Early intervention saves the health system money in the long-term. Citizens’ Counselling has been operating in our region since 1969 and it’s crucial they remain open to provide this essential service.

We look forward to your reply regarding our request.



Carole James, MLA, Victoria-Beacon Hill
John Horgan, MLA, Juan de Fuca
Rob Fleming, MLA, Victoria-Swan Lake
Maurine Karagianis, MLA, Esquimalt-Royal Roads
Lana Popham, MLA, Saanich South

cc: Brenda Wilson, Executive Director, Greater Victoria Citizens’ Counselling Centre