Nova Scotia

Tories promise $39.7M to improve mental-health care in Nova Scotia

The Progressive Conservatives plan to improve mental-health care in Nova Scotia includes having services in all of the province's schools and setting up four crisis-response centres.

'Nova Scotians are crying out for more mental health service,' says PC Leader Jamie Baillie

Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie announced money for mental-health care during a campaign stop in Lower Sackville on Monday. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said mental-health care in Nova Scotia is in a state of crisis and he has the plan to fix it.

On Monday, he unveiled the party's $39.7-million, four-year plan that he said would reduce wait times and improve care.

"Nova Scotians are crying out for more mental-health service," he said.

The party's plan would:

  • Allow every student in the province to access mental-health services in their school.
  • Establish four crisis-response centres where people having a mental-health crisis would receive treatment rather than being treated at emergency rooms.
  • Add more mental-health courts. 
  • Establish a mental health and wellness institute at a Nova Scotia university where research would be conducted.
  • Create a $250 tax rebate for Nova Scotians with PTSD who have a service dog.

Baillie singles out long Cape Breton wait times

Baillie said the plan would improve mental-health care, especially in Cape Breton, where he said the average wait time to access services is 354 days.

"That is a year worth of ... Nova Scotians suffering from depression, from anxiety, from schizophrenia, from a host of mental illnesses where their lives are literally at risk and they wait a year and we lose some of them while they wait," he said.

In July 2015, the PCs called for an inquiry into the province's mental-health system, something which the governing Liberals turned down.

On Monday, Baillie backed away from that call and said the PCs are looking to make the mental-health system better, but a public inquiry isn't part of its plan.

Liberal plan

Last Friday, the Liberals unveiled their plan to address mental health and promised to spend more than $34 million and hire more than 100 mental-health professionals and support staff.

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.

The NDP hasn't unveiled its mental health promises.

with files from Michael Gorman and Jean Laroche

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