N.S. mental health advocate skeptical of funding announced for Cape Breton
Published Wednesday, September 27, 2017 8:22PM ADT
Despite the Nova Scotia government committing additional funding to mental health support in Cape Breton, an advocate in Sydney believes there’s still more to be done.
As part of the Stephen McNeil government's budget tabled Tuesday, $192,000 has been allowed to hire two more guidance counsellors and one social worker.
Mental health critic Fran Morrision, who lost her son to suicide, says the same positions were cut from the board a year ago, and it simply isn't enough.
“Are they added positions or are they replacing people that have already been let go?” Morrison asks. “If they're replacing people that have already been taken out of the system, then that's almost insulting.”
Out of the $2.7 million added to the budget for health care, $1.8 million will go towards youth mental health in the province, including the expansion of Kids Help Phone.
It's all part of a recommendation made by noted adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Stan Kutcher, who spent time in Cape Breton after three teens took their own lives in just six months.
“The recommendations and commitments the minister has made is the first wave of what we will continue to build on to ensure these families and kids get the support they need,” McNeil said Tuesday.
PC MLA Alfie MacLeod agrees with Morrison, claiming there’s no new funding.
“It's resources that were already there, so for them to go around and beat on their chest about how they're replacing funding and putting more resources there is an outright lie to the people of Cape Breton Island,” MacLeod says.
Officials with the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board are not confirming whether they've received the funding, saying they'll have to wait until their own budget is approved before commenting.
With a new school year just underway, Morrison says she's worried there's not enough support in place for students.
“You can't put a price on the heads of our children or any human life, and that's what's being done,” she says.
McNeil reiterated Wednesday that the government will be implementing the recommendations made by Dr. Stan Kutcher after his visit to Cape Breton earlier this year. The premier is calling those plans "the first wave" of what his government will do to offer support to families who need mental health services.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.