Vermette: This is a win for all the families who have been fighting for stronger supports
REGINA – Today, the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan passed Bill 601, The Saskatchewan Strategy for Suicide Prevention Act, 2021 introduced by NDP Opposition Critic for Mental Health and Addictions Doyle Vermette. Vermette has long advocated for the implementation of a suicide prevention strategy in the province and was elated by the passing of the bill.
“I can’t stop thinking of all the families over the last few years who have approached me to share their story of a child, a parent or loved one they’ve lost,” said Vermette. “We told them we wouldn’t give up and we would keep pushing this government to do more, to be better, and to do the right thing. It was a long road to get here but really it’s those families that I’m thinking of right now.”
This is the third time MLA Vermette has introduced this legislation, once in 2018 and once in 2019, but the government previously voted down the bill. Those actions led to Tristan Durocher’s 635 kilometer ‘Walking With Our Angels’ protest last summer, followed by his 44-day fast, one day for every Sask. Party MLA who had previously voted down the legislation.
“This is a good day, but this is just one of many steps needed to start to combat this crisis. We know that suicide and mental health is a leading contributing factor to Indigenous deaths in this province, especially in the North among our youth and we need to move quickly on this,” said Vermette. “Now we need to ensure that this government follows through and begins to consult with those on the ground and gets the ball rolling on this as soon as possible.”
The NDP bill mandates the Ministry of Health to start consultations with relevant stakeholders and groups within 180 days of coming into force for the development of the strategy. It also directs the Ministry of Health to establish a suicide prevention strategy and report annually on the progress it has made, and would further require the Ministry to:
- Provide guidelines to improve public awareness and knowledge about suicide;
- Disseminate information about suicide and suicide prevention;
- Make information about suicide statistics and risk factors available;
- Promote collaboration across jurisdictions and regions;
- Define best practices for suicide prevention and;
- Promote the use of research and evidence-based practices for the prevention of suicide.