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Yukon NDP promises better mental health care, support for FASD

Yukon's NDP is promising to slash wait times for mental health care in half, within two years of forming government.

The party says it will slash wait times for mental health care in half, within two years

NDP candidate Jan Stick (Riverdale South) announced the party's platform on mental health care, in Whitehorse on Tuesday. (Vic Istchenko/CBC)

Yukon's NDP is promising to slash wait times for mental health care in half, within two years of forming government.

"People are waiting for months to get in for an assessment, or to see a specialist," said NDP candidate Jan Stick (Riverdale South). She was her party's health critic in the last legislative assembly.

"In the communities, we have two psychiatric nurses who are expected to provide service to all communities, including Old Crow."

The NDP is also vowing to spend up to $2.5 million to help recruit more staff such as psychiatric nurses, social workers, and counsellors.

Stick says an NDP government would also look into upgrading facilities at the Whitehorse hospital, so that mentally unstable patients aren't regularly taken to the Whitehorse jail. 

The Liberal Party platform has also promised to "recruit an adequate number of in-patient and out-patient mental health workers," but has not put any dollar figure on the promise.

The Liberal platform, released on Tuesday, also promises to "streamline and refocus the implementation of the Yukon Mental Wellness Strategy and include comprehensive after care services in Yukon communities."

The Yukon Party has not yet released its full platform, and has not yet made any promises associated with mental health care.

Support for people with FASD

The NDP are also promising to increase support for people diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Whitehorse lawyer Rod Snow, running for the party in Riverdale North, says he's been working for years to advocate for people living with the disability, who tend to be over-represented in the criminal justice system.

"Education, assessment, and support I think are the key things," Snow said.

Snow has spent years promoting amendments to the Canadian criminal code, and helped draft a bill — now before Parliament — that would allow judges to make special sentencing provisions for people with FASD.

He collaborated on the bill with former Yukon MP Ryan Leef, and is now working with MP Larry Bagnell to have the new version of the bill passed. ​

With files from Vic Istchenko

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