VICTORIA— Nick Lang’s story shows that after years of cuts from the Christy Clark government, parents are so desperate to get their children help with addictions that they turn to the justice system so they can access services.
Lang was the subject of a report that was released on Thursday by the Independent Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel Lafond, titled “Last Resort: One family’s tragic struggle to find help for their son.”
“Every time a report comes out, the minister says it’s tragic, but nothing changes. We wouldn’t be having so many tragedies if the minister put more energy into protecting children and less time fundraising and protecting the Christy Clark government,” said New Democrat children and families spokesperson Melanie Mark. “Nick Lang was a big-hearted Metis boy with two loving parents who did everything that they could to get him the help that he needed, but the services and supports simply weren’t there. They couldn’t afford private care for his meth addiction and couldn’t access public care until they put Nick through the justice system.
“Christy Clark is failing families. No parent should be forced to have their child charged with a crime to get access to treatment for addiction.”
Unfortunately, despite his parent’s efforts, Lang died just six days after being placed in a residential care facility where he was to get help overcoming his addiction.
Mark noted that in Fraser Health, where Nick lived, the number of youth addictions beds plunged by over 50 per cent during the time that he was in need of services, from 22 beds in 2013, to 10 today.
“The minister can’t stand by while youth addiction beds close and then act concerned when children get hurt by her government’s cuts,” said Mark.
Even after going to through justice system, Lang had to wait a month before he could get into the program he needed. During that time he was supposed to be assigned to an Intensive Support and Supervision Program (ISSP) worker, but there wasn’t one, because budget constraints in the justice system mean ISSP workers are regularly unavailable.
“Everywhere Nick’s parents turned, they found a system starved of the basic resources that their son needed to heal,” said Mark.
“As Christy Clark said before she became premier, ‘the blame for a lack of resources must always lie at the political level.’ Christy Clark made a choice, a political choice, to cut addictions beds for youth, and Nick Lang paid the price for her choice.”