Nova Scotians who have struggled with accessing addictions support or long mental health wait times will have to wait a little bit longer for their government to acknowledge the issues in the system. After years of a growing mental health crisis in Nova Scotia, incoming Premier Iain Rankin announced an “office” to oversee supports, but no Minister or Department.
“Nova Scotians worry that an office will be more symbolism than results at a time when people need results,” says Tim Houston, PC Leader of the Official Opposition. “A Minister and Department would be accountable to helping people in the same way we see for Education or Health. I was hoping we’d see some actual leadership and acceptance that people are struggling.”
Last fall, Houston outlined his plan for mental health and addictions in Nova Scotia, with a proposal for Universal Mental Health care. The plan would see Nova Scotians - regardless of their income or circumstance - be able to access professional mental health help when they need it.
Houston worries that Nova Scotians waiting over a year to access mental health services in regions like Cape Breton won’t see any positive change from today’s deckchair shuffling.
“Addictions and mental health needs are healthcare needs, not a niche problem that affects someone else’s child or happens only to the people you hear about on the news,” says Houston.
“Supporting Nova Scotians means leadership through immediate attention. It’s just as important as physical health.”
The PC Caucus has put forward a comprehensive plan of solutions that would make Nova Scotia the most progressive mental health support system in Canada.
In addition to making mental health care universal, Houston is calling for a three digit crisis line and increased training opportunities for mental health professionals and educators. He has written to the incoming Premier asking for his position on these issues.
In contrast, the Liberal government has made questionable decisions on the addictions file in 2021 including increasing high-stakes gambling and cutting resources for addictions.
“Creating offices and moving money creates a nice soundbite, “says Houston. “But what Nova Scotians have been missing for the past eight years is tangible help with addictions and mental health struggles. Our proposals would do a lot of good and I encourage the Premier to take a look at them.”