Budget Strengthens Mental Health And Addictions Treatment And Support
The new provincial budget dedicates $435 million to mental health and addictions services, the highest amount ever for this important priority.
“Our government is committed to making mental health and addictions a priority in this year’s budget.,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said. “We are dedicating 7.5 per cent of our overall Health budget to fund critical initiatives, including the development of an innovative crystal methamphetamine treatment program in Estevan. Our government is working to build stronger communities and stronger families by improving care and access for people across the province who need assistance with mental health and addictions issues.”
Rural and Remote Health Minister Warren Kaeding emphasized that “plans for enhancements are underway, and it’s also important to be aware many support services are currently available for individuals and families struggling with issues that feel more intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The 2020-21 budget provides an overall increase of $33 million for mental health and addictions services. This investment includes an increase of $12 million for targeted mental health and addictions services, an increase of $19.3 million, primarily for increased use of hospital-based mental health and addictions services, and an increase of $1.6 million for Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford operating.
Nearly $1.4 million will be allocated to establish a new specialized crystal methamphetamine inpatient treatment centre in Estevan to treat individuals from across the province seeking recovery. The new provincial centre will include the development of innovative protocols in medication use to support crystal meth treatment, wrap around services available in Estevan and post‐inpatient supports throughout the province. The provincial centre will use a unique partnership model that will bring specialized training to the province. The centre will include 15 beds for people recovering from crystal meth use and five beds for other addictions treatment needs.
An additional $150,000 is being invested to establish four pre‐treatment beds and six post treatment beds in Estevan. Treating crystal meth use will be a strong focus, but individuals may receive treatment for addictions to other substances as well. As the treatment needs are unique to those with issues related to crystal meth, this provincial centre will offer flexibility in lengths of stay beyond the traditional 28-day treatment model.
“This treatment centre is important to the community of Estevan and to all of Saskatchewan,” St. Joseph’s Hospital Executive Director Greg Hoffort said. “We are excited to work with the Ministry of Health and Saskatchewan Health Authority to develop an innovative site for the effective treatment of crystal methamphetamine addiction and to provide quality care to people in need.”
More than $1.7 million will cover costs associated with 28 new detox beds in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, North Battleford and other potential locations.
More than $800,000 will fund the hiring of dedicated addiction workers to better resource emergency departments in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert. These addictions counsellors will provide support to patients coming in to emergency with addictions issues, to ensure addictions supports are available in real time that will assist patients to navigate to other supports in a smoother transition.
More than $680,000 will fund medical supports in detox to support patients experiencing the crystal meth detox process, such as hiring registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and paramedics, to increase availability of medication and medical treatment.
A further $400,000 will establish a fourth provincial Rapid Access to Addiction Medicine clinic (RAAM), this one based in North Battleford. RAAM clinics provide immediate access to addictions treatment by multi-disciplinary teams in order to reduce emergency department visits, shorten wait times and improve outcomes for patients.
More than $630,000 in new harm reduction investments will be included in the 2020-21 Budget. Of this, $130,000 will support additional caseworkers for AIDS Saskatoon and $500,000 will be directed to other harm reduction efforts across the province.
This funding will support the purchase of more Naloxone kits, needle exchange, safer inhalation supplies, as well as expanded harm reduction services.
Funding of $6.2 million will improve mental health services by dedicating:
- $3.0 million to fund ongoing efforts to create new residential support beds for individuals with intensive mental health needs transitioning from a hospital setting back into the community, freeing up hospital space for incoming patients;
- More than $1.3 million to develop intensive supports for children and youth with complex mental health needs;
- $1.25 million in one-time funding to support suicide prevention, including improved use and monitoring of suicide protocols, and enhancing research, data and surveillance;
- $437,000 in one-time funding to pilot the integration of nurses working with RCMP members to support mental health needs in rural areas; and
- $200,000 to sustain the development of a mental health program for Emergency Medical Services workers in the province.
Federal funding of $1.35 million through the Opioid Emergency Treatment Fund will be used to recruit and train more health care professionals in supporting those with crystal meth and opioid addictions including more Opioid Substitution Therapy prescribers.
These investments support the recommendations in Saskatchewan’s Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan, which guides and sets priorities for mental health and addictions. The $12 million in new funding includes approximately $4.75 million from the Canada-Saskatchewan Bilateral Funding Agreement.