Vancouver City Council has approved up to $16 million for 100 new police officers and 100 mental health nurses, as part of newly elected Mayor Ken Sim’s campaign platform.
The motion leaves the door open for provincial or federal authorities to contribute to the plan.
Sim and his ABC Vancouver party, which holds a strong majority on the council, had promised to fund the hiring of police officers and nurses to help respond to mental health calls.
The city was initially prepared to spend $4.5 million on police and $1.5 million on the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, with hiring expected to begin in January.
But at Tuesday’s board meeting, those numbers were raised to $8 million each, including any provincial or federal funding that may be available.
The change comes days after Prime Minister David Eby announced a new public safety plan that includes the expansion of mental health crisis response teams.
The Council voted to ask the province to be part of plans to create 12 peer-assisted care teams made up of trained peers and mental health professionals to respond to people in distress, with or without police.
Sim’s pledge has been strongly pushed back by some members of the public and mental health advocates who say including the police in mental health calls increases anxiety for people in crisis and the money could be used more effectively elsewhere.