Niagara Regional Council Approves $4 Million for Suicide Prevention Barriers on Burgoyne Bridge

St. Catharines MPP Jennie  Stevens Follows Up with Call on Ford Government to help fund barriers and Mental Health Services in Niagara

The Burgoyne Bridge over the Twelve Mile Creek valley and a stretch of Hwy. 406 swinging through St. Catharines/Niagara. Tragically, the bridge has recently become what some Niagara regional councillors have called a “magnet” for victims of suicide and the Region’s council voted this April 25 to install suicide prevention barriers on the bridge.

A News Release from the Constituency Office of St. Catharines NDP MPP Jennie Stevens

First, here is a  brief Foreword from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –

Following lengthy discussions and debate, Niagara Region’s council voted this April 25th to spend $4 million from its 2019 capital budget on barriers that will hopefully prevent any further deaths by suicide – including three in the past three months alone – from the recently rebuilt Burgoyne Bridge in St. Catharines.

Approval of the funding came after heartfelt calls for the barriers from friends and family members of suicide victims, along with a message from them and from some regional councillors, that if the barriers save even one life, they are worth it.

Councillors also said they will continue to press other parties, including the provincial government, for more resources for mental health services to help people that may be in danger of committing suicide.

On that note, St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens, a former St. Catharines city councillor, has called on Ontario’s Ford government to provide support.

That call for provincial assistance is outlined in a news release Stevens’ constituency office circulated this April 26th.

Here it is –

Ford must help fund mental health supports — including barriers — on Burgoyne Bridge

St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens

NDP MPP Jennie Stevens said Niagara Regional Council’s approval of a project to build suicide prevention barriers on the Burgoyne Bridge Thursday night underscores the need for the Ford government to step in and do so much more for mental health and addictions services in St. Catharines, including helping fund the bridge barrier project.

Last night (on Thursday, April 25th), the regional council voted in favour of building the barriers, which are expected to help keep individuals with possible mental health challenges safe. Since October, six people have taken their own lives at the bridge. Stevens recently reached out to Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek to provide support for the barriers, but received no answer.

“These barriers saves lives. There is widespread evidence to support this. But the Conservatives refuse to come to the table to help fund this life-saving initiative,” Stevens said. “The Ford government is cutting mental health and addictions services instead of enhancing them. The need to protect people’s safety, including people in crisis, and including the drivers that travel along Highway 406, is urgent.”

“The people of St. Catharines deserve a government that does its part to keep all residents safe.”

So far, the Ford government has cut $330 million in planned mental health funding, and has defunded some of the province’s existing overdose prevention sites.

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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders


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