Mental health spending in Nova Scotia comes up short in new budget: advocates

·1 min read

HALIFAX — Mental health advocates in Nova Scotia say the government needs to increase funding for mental health support beyond what was included in last week's budget.

The 2021-22 budget presented by Premier Iain Rankin's government included an extra $20 million in spending for mental health services compared with the previous fiscal year.

But Alec Stratford, executive director of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers, says the percentage of mental health spending in the overall health budget is lower than it was for the last fiscal year.

He says spending for mental health represents about 6.3 per cent of the overall health budget this year compared to about 6.7 per cent last year.

Simon Sherry, psychology professor at Dalhousie University, says the province's lack of proportional funding toward mental health is creating a "pronounced inequity" between physical care and mental health care.

Stratford says the college is advocating for a "paradigm shift" in how the province views mental health spending.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press