Mental health services on budget chopping block?
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi) wants government to be clearer about which services it is committed to maintaining in the face of the “tough decisions” the Premier has talked about having to make due to the ongoing collapse in the price of oil.
Michael is firm that some government services and expenditures must be considered non-negotiable. She says mental health services are one such pressing need, noting that “scarcely a week goes by without a news story about someone who has been inadequately served by the available mental health services – waiting lists, the lack of treatment programs, the shortage of professionals, and other major and growing concerns.”
Michael and her caucus members hear daily from people in mental health or addictions crises.
“There has been a huge outcry from the public about the need for better mental health services,” she said in the House of Assembly today. “I ask the Premier, will his answer to these people be further cuts to these services?”
In addition to waiting lists for programs and services, says Michael, patients and professionals alike have serious concerns about the hospital that is central to treatment of psychiatric patients in the province.
“Government has finally agreed to replace the Waterford Hospital after years of the public’s outcry,” she said. “I ask the Premier, is one of his tough decisions going to be leaving us with the old Waterford?”
The premier’s tough decisions must not result in more hardship for people waiting a year or more for psychiatrists and counsellors, Michael adds.