The following is a statement from PC Critic for Addictions and Mental Health, MLA John Lohr:
I was disappointed to hear that the Liberal government has chosen to go ahead with Atlantic Lotto’s plan to implement high-stakes online gambling. Gambling is a highly addictive activity that ruins lives and the government has decided to make it as easy as the click of a button.
There is already a moratorium on VLTs in this province that prohibit use when bars are shut down- why are the Liberals skirting their own rules?
If this wasn’t already grave enough, the province quietly began dissolving funding dedicated to gambling prevention and awareness, diverting it into general mental health funding. Instead of increasing support to match the increased access to gambling, the Liberals have done the opposite.
This didn’t happen overnight. In reality, the Liberals secretly removed this funding over a period of months. Why did ‘Gambling Risk Informed Nova Scotia,’ a gambling awareness group, bring it to light, instead of a government press release?
Ask yourself: why was this decision made? Just last week, the Premier said that online gambling is already among us.
But his excuse that something already exists is only a veil to hide behind the plain and simple fact: gambling is a serious addiction that has plagued families from every corner of this province. Making it so those struggling with addiction need look no further than their smartphone or desktop is wrong, and is certainly wrong during a pandemic.
It’s high time the Liberal government stopped trying to put addictions and mental health in a neat little box and treat it like a complex issue, deserving of its own independent department.