Nova Scotia

Liberals promise $34M to address mental-health issues for Nova Scotians

The Nova Scotia Liberals' plan to address mental health in Nova Scotia over the next four years includes spending more than $34 million and hiring more than 100 mental-health professionals and support staff.

More than 100 mental-health professionals and support staff would be hired, party pledges

Stephen McNeil described the health-care system for those seeking mental-health help as a "very fractured system." (CBC)

The Nova Scotia Liberals' plan to address mental health in Nova Scotia over the next four years includes spending more than $34 million and hiring more than 100 mental-health professionals and support staff. 

During Friday's announcement, Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil described the health-care system for those seeking help for mental-health issues as a "very fractured system."

"We want to make sure that anyone suffering from mental-health illness finds the closest health-care institution that we have and then as you enter that, we'll provide the supports that you require," said McNeil.

He said the investment would include a central intake system to help triage patients.

"It's very similar to what happens now if you enter into the health-care system showing chest pains — you're immediately sent somewhere to get the appropriate level of treatment. This is what has to happen when people are showing signs of mental [illness]," said McNeil. 

"The other important part that we recognize and I think everyone recognizes, the sooner someone shows signs, the quicker we provide treatment, the better the results."

The Liberal plan also includes:

  • Hiring mental-health clinicians and support staff to work in schools and the province's more than 70 collaborative care centres across Nova Scotia. 
  • Piloting four youth health centres in Nova Scotia schools.
  • Passing the post-traumatic stress disorder legislation introduced last month. 
  • Developing an opioid addiction action plan. 

Longer and longer wait times

Wait times for access have become longer and longer under the Liberals, said NDP Leader Gary Burrill.

"The root of this was the absence of investment," he said. "Mental health is a very high priority for us.

Health care is a very high priority for us and the investments that the people would see under an NDP government would begin the very first week and NDP government is installed."

Tory Leader Jamie Baillie said his party has been pointing to shortcomings in the system for the last two years. He's disappointed it's taken this long for the Liberals to plan to do more.

"We have a crisis in mental-health services in this province and the Liberals, in government, actually cut funding to mental health," said Baillie.

He reiterated his call for a public inquiry into the mental-health system and said his party's approach to the issue would come next week.

with files from Michael Gorman