Sask. among lowest of provinces in funding mental health services

REGINA – A local family wants to see action from the provincial and federal government on mental health and addiction services in hopes their tragedy isn’t repeated.

Kyle Moffat’s father, Wade Moffatt, took his own life in August after struggling with bipolar disorder and troubles with alcohol for years.

Despite family efforts, Kyle said the right kind of help just wasn’t there when they needed it.

“My dad and me were tight, like best friends,” he said.  “We knew it was an issue, but there is just not a set program for a person like that to go on. There’s nowhere for the family to reach out and say ‘what do we do?'”

Five per cent of the provincial government’s $5-billion health budget is allocated to mental health.

David Nelson with the Saskatchewan division of the Canadian Mental Health Association said that’s two percent less than the Canadian average, which is a difference of around $120 million.

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“We’re substantially behind almost all provinces when it comes to funding for mental health and addictions in the province,” he explained.

Nelson is calling on the province to increase funding, but also wants to see movement on the 10-Year Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan presented to the government in December.

The director of mental health and addiction services with the ministry of health, Kathy Willerth, said there has been progress on the action plan behind the scenes.

“There’s always opportunities to do more and the action plan talks about those opportunities,” said Willerth. “We’re in the early days of that. The money comes as a budgeted amount. It is what we do with it, and we’re working hard with the regional health authorities.”

On top of calling for more action and funding from the provincial government, advocates also want to see the issue highlighted in the ongoing federal election.

“We’d like the federal government to consider putting the $500 million a year over 10 years into mental health and addictions,” said Nelson.

It’s something Kyle supports and said needs to take priority because his father’s story is unfortunately not unique.

“It actually breaks my heart that so many people have gone through the same hell I’m going through right now, because I really miss my dad.”


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