Cayley: A Life Too Short

May 17, 2016 at 1:30 pm

PCs call for more support for youth, introduce amendments to the Youth Secretariat Act

HALIFAX, NS – The family and friends of Cayley Fox want to turn their tragic loss into something meaningful to help others suffering with mental illness.

Cayley Fox was a caring, determined and energetic young woman, who her family and friends remember as the girl who was always smiling. She passed away in January due to mental illness.

Cayley’s friends say she was the one who could always brighten your day, even if she couldn’t brighten her own.

Carolyn and Cayley’s friends Kala Rafuse, Tessa O’Donnell, Brandon White, Tamara Boucher and Scott Hastings were at the legislature today to tell Cayley’s story and call on the government to provide more support to youth suffering with mental illness.

“We have to do something,” says Carolyn. “The government has money for other things. But this is important. We must get the resources into our schools and get our young people the counselling and support they need.”

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Carolyn Fox

Fixing the gaps in the mental health system is a priority for the Progressive Conservatives and PC leader Jamie Baillie.

“Cayley’s story is all too common,” says Baillie. “To her courageous family and friends, we hear you loud and clear. We owe it to you and our children to get this right. We have to do more to support youth with mental illness.”

Pictou East MLA Tim Houston will introduce Cayley’s Law in the legislature today. It makes changes to the Youth Secretariat Act to require the government to have a Chief Administrative Officer of the Youth Secretariat assigned to be the champion of issues facing youth. The Youth Secretariat Act requires a report to be tabled annually in the legislature. The last one was tabled in 2007.

Houston says youth must be a greater priority for the McNeil government.

“Youth are our future,” says Houston. “Let’s turn Cayley’s memory into something meaningful and do everything we can to help young people to reach their full potential. Cayley’s Law makes youth a priority in government again. The McNeil government has let the Youth Secretariat fall by the wayside. It’s time we bring youth issues back to the forefront.”

Cayley’s family and friends are hoping to help other youth who are struggling with mental illness and their families. They have produced a video to help raise awareness about Cayley’s experience and to call for action from the government to make this a priority. The video can be viewed by clicking here.

BACKGROUND:

The PC Caucus has introduced a number of pieces of legislation to address gaps in the mental health system, including:

Bill 116
Service Dogs Act –  allows people needing a dog for assistance to receive an ID card for a certified service dog and their owners.

Bill 119 – Mental Health System Public Inquiry Act
– requires the government to launch a public inquiry into Nova Scotia’s mental health system.

Bill 145 – Supporting People with Disabilities Act
– requires the Minister of Community Services to  provide the services under the Disability Support Program, the Direct Family Support Program and all other appropriate programs to a person who has been diagnosed as having an intellectual deficit disorder and resulting intellectual developmental disability or as having autism spectrum disorder.

Bill 170
Psychiatric Service Dog Credit Act – creates a $250 refundable tax credit for persons who rely on a psychiatric service dog.

Bill 172 – Psychologist Services Tax Credit Act
– provides a tax credit for psychologists who provide pro bono psychology services.

Bill 175 – Healthier Schools Act
– requires school boards to provide students with access to in-school health services provided by a qualified health professional and to make school mental health training programs available to all secondary school teachers. It also requires school boards to implement the Mental Health and High School Curriculum guide created by Stan Kutcher and Yifeng Wei.

Bill 179  — Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Act
– marks October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day and requires the Minister of Health and Wellness to assess the services available to women and families who experience the loss of a pregnancy or the death of an infant and to develop a plan to improve services where there are gaps.