COVID mismanagement strains already insufficient mental health and addictions supports

REGINA - Today, Lac La Ronge Indian Band Councillor Devin Bernatchez joined the Official Opposition at the Legislature to call attention to how the COVID-19 pandemic is making Saskatchewan’s ongoing suicide, mental health, and addictions crises worse.

“I would like to invite the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to come to the North and visit Sucker River to see with his own eyes the challenges and struggles that people in my community are facing,” Bernatchez offered. “Losing my cousin 5 weeks ago to suicide was yet another painful reminder for our communities of the tragic losses that are compounded by the shortage of mental health and addictions resources, particularly in Northern Saskatchewan.”

Across the province, people grappling with mental health and addictions issues were struggling to access the care they needed pre-pandemic. In the aftermath of a disastrous fourth wave, Saskatchewan’s health care system has now been pushed to the brink and the scarcity of resources for those dealing with mental health and addictions issues is even more apparent.

“Since finally passing our suicide prevention bill in April on the third try, the Sask. Party government has made no progress addressing the ongoing suicide crisis,” stated Doyle Vermette, Official Opposition Mental Health and Addictions Critic. “This government’s woeful handling of the fourth wave has further strained the already insufficient mental health care resources that were in place pre-pandemic.”

Vermette’s suicide prevention private member’s bill called for the government to have begun consultations by October to craft a suicide prevention plan. Mental health and addictions issues were not being adequately countered before COVID-19, but the challenges brought on by the government’s failure to contain the pandemic has worsened an already critical situation. 


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Brock Bowman


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