PEI

Premier agrees to consult unions on mobile mental health units, says P.E.I. Nurses' Union

The P.E.I. Nurses' Union, says premier Dennis King has agreed to engage with the union regarding the mobile mental health units moving forward.

'He really seemed to understand the message we were trying to put across'

P.E.I. Nurses' Union President Barbara Brookins says she feels heard after a meeting with the premier Friday afternoon. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

The P.E.I. Nurses' Union says Premier Dennis King has agreed to engage with the union regarding the mobile mental health units moving forward. 

President Barbara Brookins said she met with the premier Friday afternoon to address issues and concerns including uncertainty around whether Medavie — a private company — would manage the units. 

"There was a lot of confusion over the last month for members and for the public and even as we were listening to talks from the legislative floor," she said.

"I do actually feel like I was heard today."

Brookins says Premier Dennis King 'seemed very open to the information we were providing.' (CBC)

Earlier this week, the province's Department of Health released a document that said Medavie would manage the units. But later, Health Minister Ernie Hudson said it would not.

"We met for almost an hour and a half and were able to bring a lot of the issues forward that we were concerned about," said Brookins.

"It actually went a lot better than I thought it was going to."

'Could have been avoided'

The system was intended to help Islanders undergoing a mental health crisis. But after four years of discussions, plans around the strategy appear to keep changing. 

However, Brookins said the premier was very open to the information the union was providing. She said she left under the impression that the government will, "at least start with a blank page and engage the unions moving forward." 

"He really seemed to understand the message we were trying to put across and certainly seems to be committed to working with the unions in trying to create the best model ... we can for Islanders." 

Now, Brookins said both are planning to connect again in the coming week and said she hopes to look at the entire mental health system, not just the mobile mental health units.  

"I think a lot of it could have been prevented if they had just gone through the proper channels and engaged all stakeholders," she said. "Including the union and the impacted employees, the members that know the most about the service delivery.

"It could have been avoided, but hopefully moving forward, there's lessons been learned."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown

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