Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with Minister of Employment Carla Qualtrough, made a virtual visit to Langley on Friday to speak to leaders and staff at the Langley Community Services Society (LCSS).
Trudeau and Qualtrough spoke to Sanjeev Nand, the executive director of the LCSS, along with various representatives of the different services the society offers.
The conversation was not open to the public or media.
“We talked a lot about families that are in crisis,” said Qualtrough.
LCSS works with a wide variety of community groups, providing family counselling, employment services, assistance finding substance abuse help, and works to settle refugees in their new home.
Much of the discussion was about mental health issues in the community, and how they’d been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Problems including economic hardship, substance abuse, and even the tight quarters for some families during the pandemic restrictions can contribute to issues, Qualtrough said.
The discussion also touched on housing affordability. Like the rest of the country, Langley has seen the cost of housing rise sharply during the pandemic.
Mental health can contribute to people having difficulty finding and holding onto jobs, Qualtrough noted.
“It’s not enough to just provide funding to create jobs,” she said.
There needs to be a holistic approach to government funding, she said.
“COVID has just brought to light all of this,” she said, noting many of these issues existed before.
The virtual visit is something that might continue after the pandemic, as Qualtrough called it a “silver lining.”
The acceptance of virtual technology has meant senior politicians like Trudeau can visit nurses in Newfoundland in the morning and social service providers in B.C. in the afternoon.
On the possibility of an upcoming federal election, Qualtrough said there are no plans around the timing for that. The Liberals remain a minority government.
The minister noted she was pleased to take part in the call because she grew up in Langley.