Question Period: Mental Health – May 27, 2015

Mental Health

Mr. Coon:

According to the research referenced in a series on mental health being carried in the Globe and Mail this week, one in five young Canadians aged 9 to 19 is living with mental illness. That means that somewhere around 17 000 of our youth and children in this province are facing these challenges, and as many as three quarters of those in need are not receiving the treatment they should. That means that more than 12 000 young people in New Brunswick are hurting. This means countless trips to hospital emergency departments and families or friends looking for help that is not there or that they cannot afford. We cannot wait to balance the books before we take action, as the Minister of Health contends. What action will this minister take to address the mental health needs of our children and our youth?


Hon. Mr. Boudreau:

I remember the questions coming from the member opposite during estimates. I do not know if he just failed to understand the fact that certain envelopes of money have been moved from one place to another within the estimates to better reflect what those budget envelopes are there for.

The point of the matter is that our government is still very much engaged in implementing the Action Plan for Mental Health in New Brunswick. There are many initiatives that are part of that action plan. We are continuing to implement that action plan. We think that it is important to make sure that we are providing the necessary support and services to our youth and to the families of our youth, to make sure that they are getting the best treatment possible, whether it be in the community or elsewhere. The action plan is being followed. There is money in the budget to continue to move forward with those initiatives.


Mr. Coon:

An estimated 70% of mental health problems manifest in childhood or adolescence. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome. The Minister of Health was quoted in a CBC story, when commenting on the Strategic Program Review forum, as saying: “I understand when people stand up and say that we need to do more . . . to provide positive outcomes in health . . . Well, before getting there . . . We need to balance the books.” Is the minister saying that he will not resolve the barriers to accessing mental health care for children and youth until he balances the books?


Hon. Mr. Boudreau:

I guess what I would say to the member opposite is that I can multitask and I think our government can multitask. We need to balance the books, there is no question. As far as the Strategic Program Review is concerned, we need to make sure that everybody in the province is contributing to balancing the books so that we can provide an even brighter future for our children and for our families as we move forward.

At the same time, we need to continue to provide the day-to-day services and programs to people in need. That is what we are doing, whether it be for youth, for seniors, or for youth who are looking for their first job. We have brought forward many different initiatives, and we are going to continue to bring forward many different initiatives to help the various segments of our population. We are moving forward with the Action Plan for Mental Health in New Brunswick.

It is a priority of this government. It is something that we committed to in our platform, and it is something we are going to continue to invest in.


Mr. Coon:

Some of the solutions are right at hand, such as implementing the Integrated Service Delivery program throughout our schools and implementing it across the province now, beyond the successful demonstration projects in Charlotte County and on the Acadian Peninsula. Those projects eliminated the waiting lists for mental health and addiction services for youth in those counties. It was very successful, and it needs to be rolled out now.

Right next door, in Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University’s Dr. Stanley Kutcher has been helping to introduce mental health literacy to high schools around the world. It is a question of political choices, and it is a question of political will. Will the Minister of Health agree to make eliminating the barriers to mental health care for children and youth his number one priority?


L’hon. M. Boudreau :

Comme je l’ai déjà mentionné, le Plan d’action pour la santé mentale au Nouveau-Brunswick est une priorité de notre gouvernement, et nous investissons dans les différentes initiatives qui en font partie. Le député d’en face a parlé de la prestation de services intégrés. C’est un plan qui implique plusieurs ministères travaillant en étroite collaboration pour s’assurer que nous offrons les meilleurs soins possibles aux gens qui en ont besoin. Un projet pilote existe dans le comté de Charlotte, ainsi que dans la Péninsule acadienne.

La santé mentale est certainement une question que nous allons continuer à examiner. Ainsi, cette année, nous avons investi dans la création d’un centre de traitement faisant partie du réseau d’excellence pour les jeunes ayant des besoins complexes, qui sera situé à Campbellton et dont nous avons déjà parlé ici, à la Chambre. Nous faisons des investissements, nous prenons au sérieux le plan d’action et nous allons continuer d’appuyer les gens qui ont besoin de l’aide du gouvernement.


May 27, 2015 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 27 mai 2015