Today at the Legislature, NDP Mental Health Critic Danielle Chartier was joined by 11 individuals who have lived experience with the mental health system to raise concerns around the government not properly staffing Saskatoon’s mental health assessment unit at Royal University Hospital (RUH). There are also questions around the government’s plan to close the unit without providing a clear alternative when the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Adult Emergency Room opens in the fall.
“When we look at the lack of meaningful action, we’ve seen on mental health supports in this province, it’s no wonder brave people like these are coming forward to share their stories,” said Chartier. “Simply too many people are left without the vital supports they need. “We need to not only keep the mental health assessment unit, but also need to see an expansion of the vital services it could be providing. It's past time those struggling with mental health issues are provided the dignified, quality care they deserve.”
Chartier noted that the government left $1.7 million in federal mental health dollars on the table last year, even though it would only cost $1.2M to fund staffing for the unit and to get it properly utilized. She has also called on the government to consider using the soon to be vacated space at RUH for a short-stay mental health unit once the adult ER moves over to the children’s hospital. This would add capacity to the strained system, and ease pressures on the Dube Centre and our emergency rooms. Most importantly, it would provide better care for those that the system is currently leaving behind.
“This government cannot say their budget is balanced when they’ve failed to ensure enough supports for those facing mental health challenges,” Chartier said. “Families and their loved ones who are battling mental health troubles deserve the certainty that the help will be there when they need it.”