'Everyone should have access': Mental health a priority for Manitoba Liberals
'There is plenty of evidence that these investments in mental-health care pay off,' Liberal leader says
Manitoba's Liberals say they would make mental-health care a priority if the party were to win the Sept. 10 provincial election.
Leader Dougald Lamont says a Liberal government would cover clinical psychological therapy as part of medicare and invest in training mental-health professionals.
It would also pay for psychological assessments and treatments for children with learning and behavioural disabilities.
Lamont says waiting lists for assessments currently stand at two to three years in some parts of the province.
He says he has heard from many families who have struggled to get their children into therapy because they don't have insurance and waiting lists are long.
He adds that Manitoba, at five per cent, spends less on mental-health care than the national average of seven per cent.
"Mental-health care is health care, and everyone should have access to it," Lamont said in a release Thursday.
He also promised that a Liberal government would work with universities and colleges to increase the number of fully licensed psychologists in Manitoba.
Last year, the province had 19 psychologists per 100,000 people — less than half the national figure of 49 per 100,000, he said.
Lamont pointed out that the Progressive Conservative government under Brian Pallister delayed for months signing a new federal health-care funding agreement that offered $400 million, including money for mental-health care.
Liberals estimate the cost of a training and mental-health delivery program, based on models in the United Kingdom, to treat 10,000 adults a year would be $7 million by the fourth year. Psychological counselling would cost $15 million.
"There is plenty of evidence that these investments in mental-health care pay off because people are able to get back to work. It also prevents a downward spiral that keeps people out of crisis and the ER," said Lamont.
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