Edmonton

Auditor General slams province over 'failed' mental health strategy

Alberta's provincial watchdog has released a scathing new report on how the health system is falling short on mental health issues.

'The department of health has failed to properly execute its addiction and mental health strategy'

Alberta Auditor General Merwan Saher says the health ministry has "failed to properly execute its addiction and mental health strategy." (CBC )

Alberta's provincial watchdog has released a scathing new report on how the health system is falling short on mental health care.

The document, written by Auditor General Merwan Saher, said the department of health has "failed to properly execute its addiction and mental health strategy." 

"There is no need to redesign the strategy," he wrote. "Rather the department needs to carry it out."

The report named ongoing gaps in services, highlighting treatment plans that are "disjointed" and the "unco-ordinated" delivery of housing for mental health patients.

Saher said the shortfalls are clear signs that the "systems to deliver mental health services in Alberta should be improved." 

The report also says Alberta Health Services has not analyzed its services or outcomes, so it's difficult to track exactly how large the gaps in the system are.

Alberta Health Services CEO Vicki Kaminski says while there have been improvements, the report shows more work needs to be done, especially when it comes to sharing information between doctors and other agencies involved with mental health and addiction.

Kaminski hopes a integrated clinical information system can be developed within five years.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says she has asked two MLAs to conduct their own review and report back by the end of the year.

"To make sure that they come forward in three different phases — so short term, interim and long-term recommendations — and to make sure that there is a variety of price points. Just because the price of oil is down, doesn't mean that we can let people stay at home suffering without the supports that they need."

Hoffman says she's disappointed, but not surprised by, the auditor general's findings.