SYDNEY RIVER, NS – Progressive Conservative MLA Alfie MacLeod is demanding that Liberal Health Minister Randy Delorey take immediate action to address the crumbling mental health services in Cape Breton, following news that Cape Breton youth may be forced to travel over four hours to the IWK for emergency mental health services.
“It is completely unacceptable to tell a young person in crisis that they have to find a way to Halifax to get mental health supports,” says MacLeod. “The crisis is worsening every day and young peoples’ lives are at risk. The Health Minister should be stepping in to fix this situation today, before someone falls through the cracks.”
The Cape Breton Regional Hospital should have 16 psychiatrists, but currently, there is only one part-time child and adolescent psychiatrist and seven adult psychiatrists. As a result, the hospital has the longest wait times for mental health services in the province. For youth, the wait is 163 days and for adults, the wait is 425 days—more than double the number from 2015.
“Cape Breton is in a state of emergency when it comes to mental health supports. Things won’t improve unless this government realizes Cape Breton is part of the province of Nova Scotia,” says MacLeod. “All patients and their families want is the same quality healthcare as Halifax—no more, but certainly no less.”
In the past month, two internal memos have been sent regarding the psychiatrist shortage and deteriorating mental health services at the hospital. In addition, last week’s Auditor General’s report found the Nova Scotia Health Authority has no plan for mental health service delivery across the province.
MacLeod says the Liberals are letting Cape Breton patients be victims of the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s poor management.
“I’m calling on the Health Minister to get resources to Sydney right away, so we can protect the vulnerable youth and adults who struggle with mental illness and need services urgently,” says MacLeod. “If Minister Delorey isn’t up for the job, then he should step aside.”