New Brunswick youth advocate to report on mental health crisis care by July
Published Friday, March 5, 2021 12:57PM AST Last Updated Friday, March 5, 2021 8:30PM AST
FREDERICTON -- New Brunswick's child and youth advocate is promising a thorough review of mental health crisis care in the province with a public report issued by July.
Norm Bosse received his mandate this week from Health Minister Dorothy Shephard following a Fredericton teenager's suicide that generated a public outcry.
The family of 16-year-old Lexi Daken says she went to Fredericton's Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in mental distress last month but waited in the emergency department for eight hours without getting help. She took her own life days later.
"I commit myself and my staff to a tireless effort in these next few months to ensure that Lexi's loss is memorialized," Bosse told reporters Friday. "Was this death preventable? We must learn from these tragedies in order to avoid future loss of life."
Bosse said his first task will be to review recommendations of previous reports and to find out from government why they can't be implemented immediately.
"This review will focus on why the solutions put in place for youth mental health don't last. For example, where is the psychiatric nurse capacity put in place at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital seven years ago? Why do children and youth continue to be denied life-saving services?" he asked.
Bosse offered his condolences to the Daken family and commended them for going public with their loss.
Chris Daken, Lexi's father, said the crisis in mental health care isn't only about his family's loss.
"This isn't just a fight that we started in the last couple of weeks. We know there are parents, brothers, sisters, groups that have been fighting for mental health change in the province for several years," he said in an interview Friday.
"We've been very open about our grief and the loss of a child. I guess our hope is that the government is very open in their investigation into the cause."
Daken said he won't comment on the review process until he has a chance to meet with Bosse next Tuesday.
There had been calls by the leader of the Green party and others for a full public inquiry -- something that was rejected by the health minister. Bosse said he's been involved in two public inquiries, and both cost millions of dollars and took years to complete.
"I don't have two or three years to do this," he said, noting that his term as child and youth advocate ends July 31. "We need to do something right now. Let's get it done."
Bosse said he'll listen to everyone who wants to be heard on this issue, and his consultation plans will be finalized in the coming weeks.
He acknowledged that some previous reports to government on the issue have been allowed to collect dust, but he doesn't think that will happen this time.
"I am absolutely certain this report will make a difference. This is going to be more than just a report that's going to be shelved. This is going to be a very profound overview of the system," he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 5, 2021.