Only one of two shuttered health facilities in Pictou to reopen

With so many health facilities in Pictou County shut down under this Liberal government, the Minister of Health has a hard time keeping track of them all.

It started in Question Period last week when PC Leader Tim Houston asked Health Minister Zach Churchill about Mental Health services in Pictou County after the Liberals had permanently closed the short-term unit at Aberdeen Regional Hospital in 2015.

The Minister, however, said the unit would be re-opening shortly. That came as a surprise to Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane, a vocal mental health advocate since she was first elected.

“We haven’t had a mental health short-term unit since it was closed six years ago,” she said. “So my first thought was ‘the Minister should know that’, and my second thought was ‘the minister must be mistaken.’”

He was.

MacFarlane’s questions on when the Pictou Detox would re-open received similar answers making clear the Minister was confusing the two facilities. The detox facility was temporarily closed for COVID-19 precautions in early 2020, only to become a permanent closure later that year. Under pressure from MacFarlane, the services are now slated to move to the Aberdeen hospital. The Minister has since promised an opening date of July 2021.

“I’m pleased to have a tentative date for the Pictou Detox, but it’s concerning the Liberals can’t keep these facilities straight,’ she said. “The Detox and a mental health centre serve two different kinds of needs. Losing either for six years or a year and a half causes a lot of stress and angst.”

The PCs have put forward their own mental health solutions, releasing their Universal Mental Health Care plan last year. It would re-organize the system so that private psychiatrists could be brought under the public banner to ensure help is there for those who need it.

“We are a Party that will fight to protect the services that we have, and bring solutions to add the services that Nova Scotians are missing,” says MacFarlane.