January 30th, 2019

NDP plan would expand access to mental health care

HALIFAX -- The NDP is renewing its call for a Mental Health Bill of Rights in Nova Scotia. Last fall, the NDP caucus tabled legislation that would increase health spending on mental health to 10 per cent of the health care budget.

“The state of mental health care in our province is unacceptable,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “When people can’t rely on the public system and those with means are able to pay for care sooner, we have a very serious problem.”

The NDP legislation would also create a clear expectation of care which would ensure that every person experiencing mental illness or psychological distress is entitled to:

  • be treated with dignity and respect;
  • have prompt and appropriate access to publicly-funded diagnostic resources and treatment;
  • have timely access to client- and family-centred support services;
  • have access to treatment and support that is appropriate for the person and the person's circumstances; and
  • have access to an advocate of the person's choice or to a public advocate if the person is unable to choose an advocate.
“We believe that people’s access to care for mental health should be no different than for other health issues,” said Burrill. “We wouldn’t accept a wait time of months for other life-threatening conditions, so why should we accept it here?”

The most recent data released by the province show that wait times vary from 41 days to 210 days. The longest wait times are in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.