In Vancouver, working so mentally ill get care instead of a cop (Dr. Bill MacEwan, St. Paul's Hospital)

The night before Jim Chu’s first day as Vancouver police chief, a constable on the force shot and killed a 39-year-old bipolar man at a busy intersection on the edge of the city’s downtown.

A task force convened by the mayor estimates there are approximately 2,000 severely addicted or mentally ill people living in Vancouver’s downtown who are not receiving treatment.

Dr. Bill MacEwan is a member of that task force and the head of psychiatry at St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver’s largest inner-city care facility. Asked about people who struggle with a severe mental-health issue, he inevitably turned the conversation to the Downtown Eastside, a roughly 12-by-six-block neighborhood that in the 1990s gained notoriety for having the highest HIV transmission rate outside the developing world.

Travis Lupick reports

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