Brian Comer: Cape Breton wait times for youth mental health access unacceptable

Progressive Conservative MLA and mental health nurse, Brian Comer, says the McNeil Liberals are dropping the ball on providing access to mental health services for young people in Cape Breton.

At today’s Standing Committee for Health, Comer’s PC colleagues John Lohr and Barbara Adams will be seeking answers around the increases in wait times for Cape Bretoners.

“Since 2018, wait times for young people to receive mental health care in industrial Cape Breton has more than doubled,” said Comer. “It’s unacceptable that our friends, family, and neighbours suffer without access to the support they need in a reasonable time frame.”

According to the government’s wait time records, 90 percent of non-urgent patients generally did not receive care until after 204 days in July-September 2019, compared to 83 days during the same period the previous year.

The government’s target for treatment for “non-urgent” patients is 28 days.

“Whether it's 99 days in rural Cape Breton or 204 days in industrial Cape Breton, this is too long for someone to wait to access care," said Comer. "We can't reasonably expect those who need mental health resources to wait that long for treatment."

Non-urgent wait times for young people seeking mental health resources in Windsor have more than doubled since 2018, while Colchester and rural Cape Breton clinics continue to see increased wait times.

In November 2019, PC leader Tim Houston called on the government to create a separate Department for Addictions and Mental Health Services. This department would be mandated to reduce wait times and increase access to mental health resources across the province.