REGINA - Today, Official Opposition Leader Ryan Meili and Critic for Mental Health and Addictions Doyle Vermette were joined at the Legislature by three families from across Saskatchewan who have lost loved ones to suicide. Together, they called on the government to create a bipartisan special committee of the Legislature to study the mental health and addictions crisis.
“Far too many Saskatchewan families are losing loved ones to suicide,” said Vermette. “That is why I am hoping the government will work with the Official Opposition to ensure that we have a bipartisan special committee with the right resources to save lives.”
After question period today, Vermette introduced a motion requesting that a special committee on mental health and addictions be established to tackle the suicide crisis. Existing approaches have done little to mitigate Saskatchewan’s disproportionately high suicide rates. Saskatchewan’s coroner reported 204 suicides in 2021, an increase of five from the year before when the government introduced its Pillars For Life program. This month, The Canadian Press revealed that the government reduced funding to its flagship suicide prevention program despite the Minister saying the issue was a priority.
“This government has struck special committees to examine issues of concern in recent years like impaired driving and organ donation,” said Meili. “We all desperately want to know why the government’s current approach to mental health and addictions is failing. By stepping up and supporting this committee, the Sask. Party can show that the wellness and mental health of Saskatchewan people is a real priority that comes before politics.”
The Official Opposition’s proposed motion reads as follows:
That a Special Committee on the mental health and addictions crisis be created to examine Saskatchewan’s suicide rates; the addictions and overdose crisis; and the wait times for mental health and addictions services and treatment in the province and further;
That the committee will engage with community stakeholders, families and experts to assess the issues and propose solutions.