Mental Health programs reinstated

The Yukon government has managed to find funding for three mental health programs that were set to shut down in March.

The Yukon government has managed to find funding for three mental health programs that were set to shut down in March.

Rural mental health offices in Haines Junction and Dawson received a memo in January informing staff the offices would be closing at the end of March.

The early psychosis intervention program, set up to support clients who’ve experienced a psychotic incident or break from reality, was also on the chopping block, as was the complex client care program.

The client care program helps people struggling with mental health who are in the justice system.

Since their inception, three years ago, the three programs were funded federally.

And when that money ran out, the Yukon government cancelled them.

Internal memos told workers to tell their clients the programs were ending.

With this kind of programming, building trust is really important, said Liberal Health critic Darius Elias.

“And we don’t want to disrupt this trust.”

When he heard about the cuts, Elias wrote a letter to Health Minister Glenn Hart.

Three months later, Hart replied: “I am pleased to advise you my officials have been able to reallocate resources from other programming within the existing budget to ensure the continuance of our rural mental health services.”

Hart did not say what programming the money was taken from in order to fund mental health.

“We will not only be maintaining the mental health services for those individuals in the rural areas,” said Hart at the legislature on Thursday, responding to a question about the cuts from New Democrat Leader Liz Hanson.

“We intend to enhance them.”

Hanson wanted to know if the funding was guaranteed for years to come, or if it was only enough to cover the programs this year.

“We plan to provide it for years to come,” said Hart.

The cost of the three mental health programs is just over $700,000 annually. (Genesee Keevil)