March 20, 2019

Largest Commitment To Mental Health In Saskatchewan History

The 2019-20 Saskatchewan budget makes the largest investment in mental health and addictions services in Saskatchewan history.

The Ministry of Health funding for mental health and addictions increases by nearly $30 million in the 2019-20 Budget to a total of $402 million.  This includes a $13.7 million increase to support the new Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford.

“This budget makes the largest commitment ever to mental health services in our province,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said.  “This includes funding for more than 140 new beds to treat individuals with mental health and addictions challenges.”

$8.39 million in funding will be used to create:

  • Approximately 75 new residential support beds for individuals with intensive mental health needs who are transitioning from the hospital back into the community, freeing up in-hospital space for other patients;
  • Approximately 50 new pre- and post-addiction treatment beds for individuals who are transitioning between detox and in-patient treatment or back to the community - more than doubling pre- and post-addiction treatment bed capacity in Saskatchewan;
  • 10 new in-patient addiction treatment beds in Pine Lodge, a community-based organization located in Indian Head;
  • Six new inpatient addiction treatment beds will open in Calder Centre, an addictions treatment facility located in Saskatoon; and
  • Six new inpatient addictions beds for youth under 18 that will open in southern Saskatchewan in 2019-20.

The 2019-20 Budget also provides $1.6 million to support the launch of three Rapid Access to Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinics in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert.  RAAM clinics provide immediate access to addictions treatment by multi-disciplinary teams.  In other Canadian jurisdictions, they have reduced emergency department visits, shortened wait times and improved outcomes for patients.

$1.5 million in new funding will enable the temporary Mental Health Assessment Unit in Saskatoon to become a permanent Mental Health Short Stay Unit (MHSSU).  The seven bed MHSSU will provide individuals with acute mental health care needs a place to stay for up to seven days.

$1.1 million in new funding will be used to hire up to 12 new full-time staff to more effectively serve children and youth with mental health issues.

$685,000 in new funding will be used to hire up to seven Primary Care Counsellors to work in primary care centres across Saskatchewan.  More than 139,000 patients access this type of service annually, often for depression and anxiety.

$515,000 in new funding will be used to hire pediatric nurses and social workers to provide enhanced mental health services to children in the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital emergency department.

$375,000 in new funding will also be used to increase the number of nurses available to provide mental health support in the Regina General Hospital emergency department.

$300,000 in new funding will help provide 24/7 nursing supports at the La Ronge Detox Centre.  This funding will significantly improve the La Ronge Detox Centre’s ability to provide treatment to individuals who are detoxing from opioids, crystal meth or other substances.

Federal funding of $1.4 million through the Opioid Emergency Treatment Fund will be used to recruit and train more health care professionals to treat crystal meth and opioid addictions.

The 2019-20 Budget also increases funding for harm reduction to more than $1.0 million annually, nearly triple what was provided in 2007-08.  This funding will be used to support provincially funded harm reduction programs, which work to reduce blood borne infections like Hepatitis C and HIV by reducing the sharing of paraphernalia used to smoke or inject illegal drugs.

The 2019-20 Budget includes new funding for a number of community-based organizations that already provide critical mental health and addictions services in communities across Saskatchewan:

  • $1.2 million will launch 18 new mental health walk-in counselling clinics across Saskatchewan through Family Services Saskatchewan, a community-based organization partnership;
  • $420,000 will increase the availability of vocational programming for individuals with mental illnesses provided through the Canadian Mental Health Association of Saskatchewan;
  • $200,000 will be divided between the Autism Resource Centre in Regina and Autism Services of Saskatoon to enable each organization to hire a mental health professional to provide enhanced treatment for autism-specific mental health disorders;
  • $250,000 will expand the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Roots of Hope Suicide Prevention Initiative to Buffalo Narrows, the third Saskatchewan community incorporated into this program;
  • In partnership with the Ministry of Social Services, $600,000 in funding is being annualized to support Sanctum 1.5, a 10-bed unit that provides harm reduction care to pregnant women living with HIV and substance abuse issues.

These investments build on ongoing annual funding for previous initiatives and expand capacity to deliver services.  They support the recommendations in Saskatchewan’s Mental Health and Addiction Action Plan (, which guides and sets priorities for mental health and addictions.

The federal government is contributing new funding of $6.275 million toward Saskatchewan’s expenditures on mental health and addictions this year.  Approximately $4.85 million is from the Canada-Saskatchewan Bilateral Funding Agreement announced in January 2017, and an additional $1.425 million comes from the Emergency Treatment Fund.