Commits to aggressively pursue implementation of the province’s 10 Year Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan and bring funding for mental health services up to the national average
Saskatchewan Party Leadership candidate Gord Wyant today announced that addressing the challenge of mental health and addictions in Saskatchewan will be among his top priorities as Premier.
“I believe that the growing prevalence of mental illness and addictions within our population may be the greatest social and economic challenge facing Saskatchewan today,” said Wyant. “These issues have a serious impact on our economy due to lost productivity and are driving Saskatchewan people into our human services ministries at increasing rates.”
Since forming government in 2007, the Saskatchewan Party has increased funding for mental health by well over 40 per cent. While Saskatchewan spends approximately five per cent of the health budget on mental health services and supports, this is behind the national average of seven per cent. Wyant believes the realignment of health regions into a single health authority will offer a clearer picture of how funding is allocated across the province. As Premier, Wyant will commit to bringing funding for mental health up to at least seven per cent of the annual health budget as an immediate first step.
Wyant also announced that as Premier, he will recommit to the province’s 10 Year Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan which was released in 2014. Because the plan requires inter-ministerial cooperation and demands attention at the highest level, as Premier, Wyant will chair a sub-committee including the Ministers of Health, Social Services, Justice and Education to aggressively pursue implementation of the Action Plan.
Because many farm families face unique stresses and may have limited access to local services and supports, Wyant would also appoint rural MLAs to this committee so the mental health needs of rural residents and the agricultural community are top of mind as implementation proceeds. Additionally, Wyant has heard first-hand of the work being done by First Nations leaders to address mental health, addictions and suicide within indigenous communities – particularly in the north - and he is committed to ensuring their voices are directly engaged in the conversation.
The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in any given year. That means approximately 230,000 people in Saskatchewan will be faced with these struggles each year. In a 2016 study, the Conference Board of Canada estimated that improved treatment of depression and anxiety among Canadian workers could boost Canada’s economy by nearly 50 billion dollars.
“Mental health and addictions affect everyone – from business leaders and farmers to teachers and tradespeople,” said Wyant. “We must do better for Saskatchewan people, and as Premier, this will be one of my top priorities.”
Since the beginning of his campaign, Wyant has spoken about the need for renewal within the Saskatchewan Party and the provincial government using the Party’s guiding principles as a road map for this renewal. Among these principles are a commitment to a high-quality health care system for all Saskatchewan people, regardless of where they live within the province and a strong social safety net which protects those who truly need support while encouraging individuals to become self-sufficient. It is these principles that provide the frame work for policies aimed at improving the wellness of Saskatchewan people.