Advocates await details on how mental health funding will shake down in Sask.

Advocates await details on how mental health funding will shake down in Sask.
Advocates await details on how mental health funding will shake down in Sask.

اخبار العرب-كندا 24: السبت 25 مارس 2023 04:06 مساءً

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Everett Hindley says he hopes the budget for urgent care centres can help ease the pressure mental health emergencies can place on emergency rooms. (Matt Duguid/CBC - image credit)

Seven and a half per cent of the health care funding in Saskatchewan's 2023-24 budget is devoted to mental health and addictions programs and services.

The province increased funding for mental health programs by $12.4 million over last year, for a total of $518 million.

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Everett Hindley said any increase to this budget is good, but it's not clear exactly what the new money will support.

Some of it is going to 150 additional addictions treatment spaces and 50 newly established treatment spaces. A minor increase to Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) clients is also coming in, at $30 a month per recipient.

"I'm a little disappointed, there was a lot of hype about the increase to the SAID program and it's not a very big increase," Rebecca Rackow, director of advocacy, research and public policy development with the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, said Wednesday.

"If you look at the fact that there's been no increases for seven years, a $30 increase in today's inflation levels and all of that, that's really not much, is it?"

Other things are missing too, according to Beverly Balaski, executive director with the Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of Saskatchewan.

Her organization has been advocating for new education spaces for psychiatric nurses for years, but they are missing from the budget again this year. In general, the mental health sector can always use more funding, Balaski said Thursday.

"We're very much aware of the acute psychiatry issues, we're familiar with the suicide crisis and even the overdose and addiction crisis," she said.

She said child psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry are often overlooked.

"We do know that mental health affects everyone. It's not just the person experiencing it, but it's their family, their loved ones, but also society on a whole," she said.

"When people are experiencing issues and are unable to work, we know that crime can increase. We know that productivity decreases. We know that parenting is affected."

Funding for new urgent care centres in Regina and Saskatoon is in the budget, something Hindley said he hopes will help.

"A significant component of the dollars that we have for the urgent care centres is meant to also address these types of mental health and addictions walk-in type of situations, to help take some of that pressure off of our ERs," he said.

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