REGINA — The Saskatchewan minister responsible for Rural and Remote Health says he's hearing that northern communities are happy with the supports in place now to help with mental health challenges, but more needs to be done.
Greg Ottenbreit's comments come after news this week of a possible suicide and two suicide attempts in La Loche, Sask.
Ottenbreit says they have been able to recruit a community mental health worker and community nurse for La Loche to specifically address residents' mental health needs.
But NDP MLA Buckley Belanger says the province hasn't done enough.
He would like to see more treatment centres in the north to deal with drug use and suicide attempts.
Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor says they're aware of the shortage of social workers, particularly in the north, but says it is challenging to fill the positions.
She says there were a lot of maternity leaves all at once.
Since January, an additional 15 critical front line Child and Family Programs positions have been filled and the province is in the process of recruiting 12 more.
While the recruiting process continues, Beaudry-Mellor says caseloads have been taken on by staff in other areas to distribute the extra work.
Nicole Rancourt, the NDP's social services critic, says exempting social workers from proposed wage cuts or unpaid days off might be a step in the right direction.
The Canadian Press