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EDITORIAL: Social programs a wise investment
You don’t have to be a bleeding heart to understand why adequately funding social programs makes a lot of sense.
Education funding keeps kids in school, off the streets, and increases their chances of securing gainful employment as adults. A strong public healthcare system offers vast economies of scale and ease of access, reducing healthcare costs for employers and ensuring a healthier, more productive workforce.
Tax dollars spent on worthy social programs are investments not only in our society, but our economy as well.
The proposed new facility for the Reach Child and Youth Development Society in Ladner is one project that will bring enormous benefit to South Delta.
By giving children with developmental disabilities and behavioral issues the skills to function properly, to live independently, to hold down jobs, and to pay taxes, Reach is creating citizens that will ultimately be contributing to society, instead of being a burden to it.
Those who suffer mental health issues are among the biggest financial burdens on society.
A 2008 SFU report pegs the total cost on society for each homeless person at $55,000, for healthcare, social services, policing costs, and corrections.
Forty per cent of the homeless living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside suffer from a mental illness, according to a 2012 City of Vancouver report. Many of those who have found their way to the streets of the Downtown Eastside ended up there after the provincial government’s closure of Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam.
By investing in preventative programs that keep these individuals off the streets, we not only greatly improve the quality of their lives, but can save tax dollars as well.
The next provincial government needs to take a long look at how it funds mental health, and realize that preventative and supportive social programs for youth can lead to exponential savings down the road.
Preventative programs are vaccinations against social ills.
While the effects may not be immediate, they are long-lasting, and profound.