SYDNEY, NS – Progressive Conservative MLAs Alfie MacLeod and Eddie Orrell say the McNeil Liberals must keep inpatient detox beds at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital open, even though a recent report recommends shutting some down.
The CBC obtained an internal report commissioned by the Nova Scotia Health Authority that recommends doing away with mental health and addictions beds at the Sydney hospital, as well as shutting down detox units in the Strait-Richmond area, Pictou, and Springhill.
Health Minister Leo Glavine has said there is no immediate plan in place to shut down any of the beds, but MacLeod and Orrell aren’t convinced.
“The mental health system in this province is failing people,” says MacLeod. “Instead of contemplating shutting down much needed beds, the McNeil government must address the root of the problem. People suffering from mental illness and addictions need access to real, meaningful support services and that isn’t happening under McNeil’s leadership.”
The report says some inpatient mental health beds around the province have low occupancy rates, but at Cape Breton Regional Hospital, the inpatient beds are operating at an occupancy rate of 109 per cent.
“Obviously, Cape Bretoners depend on these beds,” says Orrell. “Getting rid of them would be careless, and would force people to look for treatment elsewhere. Even worse, they may decide to not seek help at all. The McNeil government can’t allow people suffering from addictions and mental illness to be put in that position.”
MacLeod agrees, and says the results of the report prove Nova Scotia’s mental health system is broken.
“Tens of thousands of Nova Scotians are seeking help for mental illness and addictions, and some of them are waiting over a month for their first appointment,” says MacLeod. “It’s shameful. The Health Minister and Premier McNeil need to do better.”
A PC government lead by Jamie Baillie would put a greater emphasis on mental health supports providing mental health services in schools, providing a tax credit for psychologists who provide pro-bono services, and creating a tax credit for those who rely on a psychiatric service dog.