Houston promotes creation of Department of Addictions and Mental Health

“Enough of the status quo. It’s time for a bold and innovative approach. It’s time to raise the standard on how we address and act on mental health in Nova Scotia”

Nova Scotia needs a new approach to mental health and addictions services and delivery. We need to create an environment of solution-based and evidence-based treatment while prioritizing cross-departmental collaboration.

Tim Houston has the plan to do just that.

As Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia, Tim Houston will advocate for a separate Ministry of Addictions and Mental Health.

“We have a chance to consolidate planning, strategy and outreach when it comes to effective and efficient addictions and mental health service delivery across government,” says Houston, MLA for Pictou East. “With the crisis we are facing in our health care system – doctor shortage, lacklustre approach to managing and supporting chronic illnesses – the Minister of Health is not making addictions and mental health a priority within his mandate; someone has to.”

Houston will transfer the existing costs for mental health and addictions out of the Department of Health and Wellness, which currently stand at $206 million, along with proportional administration funding from the Department. Houston will also provide additional funding over time for research on solutions-based programs that will include measurement of outcomes. This approach would follow the lead of the new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions established in 2017 by the provincial government in British Columbia.

The approach has the approval of Todd Leader, one of Nova Scotia’s leading experts in mental health system transformation. Leader was appointed by the Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness to the Ministerial Panel on Innovation in Mental Health and Addictions, is the author of It's Not About Us; The Secret to Transforming the Mental Health System in Canada, and this year has been the President of the Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia, and Vice President of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers.

“The only way we will ever transform our addiction and mental health system, is by dedicating resources and mandate to the upper levels of Government,” says Leader, owner of Leader Development and a registered psychologist and social worker. “It is no longer enough to simply add more money and more services. More of the same does not give us different. A Ministry of Addictions and Mental Health would provide accountability for real transformation.”

Houston notes that the various government departments are currently working in silos, and the creation of a new Ministry to oversee addictions and mental health would have not only an overarching strategy for mental health, but a formalized protocol put in place to ensure that all of the departments impacted coordinate their respective services for the benefit of Nova Scotians.

“It’s irresponsible and ineffective that we have the Minister of Health and Wellness responsible for a budget of $4.4 billion and another 16 Ministers responsible for the remaining $6.5 billion,” says Houston. “Mental health and addictions impact various government departments including Justice, Community Services, Education and Early Childhood Development. It’s time to call in a quarterback to oversee planning and service delivery across all Government departments.”


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