2021 Report: Repositioning Social Work Practice in Mental Health in Nova Scotia

We are grateful for the moral courage of the social workers who participated in the survey and focus groups for the research paper published by NSCSW in January, Repositioning Social Work Practice in Mental Health in Nova Scotia.

We welcome all readers to this NSCSW mental health paper. It is being introduced at a time when many are reflecting on how the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken our society. More people in this province have reported higher rates of anxiety levels than anywhere else in Canada, according to a national poll commissioned by Mental Health Research Canada. About 27 per cent of Nova Scotians described their anxiety level as high since the pandemic began, a 20 per cent jump from pre-pandemic levels. That’s five points higher than the national average of 22 per cent who reported high anxiety levels during the pandemic. Also, about 16 per cent of Nova Scotians have reported high levels of depression since the pandemic, more than double the pre-pandemic number of seven per cent. That compares to 13 per cent nationwide and six per cent respectively. Alongside these numbers are also the long-standing calls by Black and Indigenous Nova Scotians for systemic reform to address both colonial and racist policies that continue to harm.

What we must come to realize is that each person’s mental health is shaped by various social, economic and physical environments operating at different stages of life. Risk factors for many common mental health issues are heavily associated with social inequalities: the greater the inequality, the higher the risk. We must recognize that the impact of the last 7 months will have a long-lasting effect if we do not respond with policies and programs that view mental wellness as a life long journey fostered by healthy communities. If we fail to respond in a timely and robust manner then this impact will grow more and more severe in the coming years.

With this paper the NSCSW aims to create a critical discourse on the political, economic and social issues that impact the mental wellness of Nova Scotians. Through this paper and the campaigns to follow, it is our goal to reframe how we view mental health, and to present new models of care and social policies that can create meaningful change in this province towards greater mental wellness. As social workers we have the tools, and vision to support this change.

Our professional values — embedded in the respect for the inherent dignity and worth of persons, pursuit of social justice, service to humanity and integrity in professional practice — call on each of us to take action towards a better mental health and addictions system.

Through this paper we will articulate the core values and principles that should frame and drive policy decisions to foster greater wellbeing and mental wellness.

The paper will allow the NSCSW, its stakeholders and allies to set future advocacy direction, set priorities for action and act as a platform for collaboration to challenge and engage the current worldview on mental health. More specifically, the advocacy paper has three main goals:

  1. To influence and guide NSCSW decision-making to promote greater well-being and mental health.
  2. To provide a formalized tool for the NSCSW, members and stakeholders to utilize in order to provide critical analysis and provide a public discourse for mental health polices and political positioning in Nova Scotia. The paper will be a tool that social workers and allies can use to highlight alternatives to the dominant discourse on mental health.
  3. To co-ordinate information and activities between NSCSW, community, stakeholders and all levels of government in order to effectively advocate for fundamental changes to mental health systems.

We hope that you find this useful, and see your voice reflected in it.

In Solidarity,

Alec Stratford MSW, RSW
Executive Director/Registrar
Nova Scotia College of Social Workers


Award Nominations Open: Recognize Outstanding Members of our Community

Many members of our professional community demonstrated considerable dedication, innovation and generosity during 2020.

Here’s one way for you to recognize your colleagues for their service. We’re seeking nominations for the following awards:

CASW Award

  • Distinguished Service Award

NSCSW Awards

  • Ron Stratford Memorial Award
    • community leaders who are not social workers may be nominated for this award
  • Diane Kays Memorial Award
  • David Connor Williams Memorial Award
  • Freda Vickery Award

» Read the award criteria

Questions? Contact Annemieke Vink at Annemieke.Vink@nscsw.org

To submit your nomination, complete the form below, no later than March 31, 2021.

MEDIA RELEASE — Social workers find that Nova Scotia’s mental health and addiction care systems are not meeting the province’s own goals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2021

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX, NS)– The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (NSCSW) has launched a new report on the state of mental health and addiction services in Nova Scotia. The report, Repositioning Social Work Practice in Mental Health in Nova Scotia, demonstrates that the current delivery of mental health and addictions care in Nova Scotia is falling short of the province’s intended goals. Significant change in the grounding principles of these systems is needed. 

Principal researcher Dr. Catrina Brown from the Dalhousie School of Social Work says, “This extensive consultation with social work service users, providers and supervisors produced overwhelmingly consistent results from the research literature to the consultations, which all strongly indicated that the current delivery of mental health services does not serve the public well.” 

The report reveals that current delivery of mental health and addiction services focuses on fiscal constraints and short-term work. There is little space for prevention, advocacy, community involvement, the development of resources, or for addressing diversity and equity needs, trauma, historical trauma, and poverty.

“Overall, we need a comprehensively designed and fully integrated mental health, addiction and trauma-based service, which addresses issues of social justice, equity and community needs —and before mental health issues reach debilitating levels of concerns,” comments Dr. Brown.

Jim Morton, chair of the NSCSW social justice committee and former manager within the Mental Health and Addiction program agrees.“Social workers are worried and angry that standardized treatments and managerial efficiency are given more importance than the unique needs of clients and their families who approach mental health and addiction services,” Morton says. 

Alec Stratford, executive director and registrar of the NSCSW, states, “The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken our society. More people in this province have reported higher rates of anxiety levels than anywhere else in Canada, as well as increasing levels of depression since the pandemic. Now more than ever, Nova Scotians require a public mental health system that meets their needs.” 

The NSCSW calls on the provincial government to adopt the recommendations of the paper, and to reposition the profession of social work within their services to ensure that a critical clinical lens and family- and client-centred practice are at the forefront of service delivery. 

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About us: 

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers serves and protects Nova Scotians by effectively regulating the profession of social work. We work in solidarity with Nova Scotians to advocate for policies that improve social conditions, challenge injustice and value diversity.

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact: Rebecca Faria, communication coordinator for NSCSW (902-429-7799 ext. 227, rebecca.faria@nscsw.org).

Media release — New campaign calls on Liberal leadership candidates to commit to creating a Child & Youth Advocate Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 2021

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX, NS) – The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (NSCSW) has launched a new online campaign at childyouthadvocatens.org calling on Nova Scotians to tweet and email the Liberal leadership candidates demanding that they commit to immediately creating a Child and Youth Advocate Office. 

As members of the governing Liberal party select their new leader and Nova Scotians await the declaration of a new premier, it is striking that the Liberal leadership candidates have yet to offer significant policy proposals to support children, youth and their families; none of these aspiring leaders have revealed a substantial plan to alleviate child and family poverty. 

“For a political party that likes to pride itself on fiscal responsibility, this approach seems fiscally reckless and socially irresponsible. The cost of poverty in Nova Scotia leads to more expensive services, and to the criminalization and over-policing of those who live in poverty,” states Alec Stratford, Executive Director and Registrar of NSCSW. 

Last month the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released the 2020 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia, which shows that child poverty has increased by 1.7 per cent, and that Nova Scotia has the highest rate of child and family poverty in the country and the highest overall rate of poverty (according to Canada’s official measurement of poverty, the Market Basket Measure).

“We need to see courage to implement a slew of policy choices, including income assistance, universal child care, and social infrastructure,” says Stratford. “To ensure policies effectively meet the needs of vulnerable children and youth, making sure they have an advocacy seat at the table is necessary and overdue.”

Without a political voice, vulnerable children and youth will continue to be left out of the decision-making that directly impacts them. The campaign aims to generate support to demand that children and youth to have the tools to effectively advocate for the policies and programs that work for them. 

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About us: 

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers serves and protects Nova Scotians by effectively regulating the profession of social work. We work in solidarity with Nova Scotians to advocate for policies that improve social conditions, challenge injustice and value diversity.

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact: Rebecca Faria, Communication Coordinator for NSCSW (902-429-7799 ext. 227, rebecca.faria@nscsw.org).

Happy Holidays: Seasonal Hours


A special thank you to our members during this holiday season for your continued dedication to the social work profession, and to your communities. 


The College’s office will be closed for the holidays:

  • at noon on Friday, December 24, 2020
  • Monday, December 28, 2020
  • Friday, January 1, 2021

The office will be open on the morning of December 24, as well as during our regular hours December 29, 30 and 31 to accommodate the last days of the annual renewal. Please note that there will be minimal staff on these days.

If you do need to visit us in person, please remember to contact nscsw@nscsw.org and make an appointment to confirm that we’ll be ready and able to welcome you when you arrive. As a reminder:

  • Health screening questions are required for all visitors.
  • We keep a record of all visitors to our office, to aid contact-tracing.
  • The public health order for non-medical masks applies to all common areas of our building, including the lobby, elevators and restrooms.

Thank you for your patience and understanding! We look forward to seeing you in the new year.

Media release — Notice of NSCSW discipline decision regarding Eileen Carey: Registration revoked

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2020

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX, NS) – In 2018, the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (NSCSW) received two complaints regarding the conduct and practice of its member Eileen Carey, resident of Halifax NS, registration #512.

After completing an investigative process for these complaints, the College held a discipline hearing on November 27, 2020. As a result of this hearing, Ms. Carey’s social work registration has been permanently revoked.

A decision summary has been published on the NSCSW website and is available to the public:
https://nscsw.org/discipline-decisions-outcomes

NSCSW is responsible for ensuring that Nova Scotians receive the services of proficient and competent social workers of high ethical standards. The College’s complaints and discipline processes are intended to protect the public from persons who are not qualified to practice social work, or whose competence or professional conduct as a social worker is in question.

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About us: 

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers serves and protects Nova Scotians by effectively regulating the profession of social work. We work in solidarity with Nova Scotians to advocate for policies that improve social conditions, challenge injustice and value diversity.

For more information or to request interviews, contact: Rebecca Faria, Communication Coordinator for the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (902-429-7799 ext. 227, rebecca.faria@nscsw.org).

Discipline decision regarding Eileen Carey

The College shares discipline decision information not only to meet the legislative requirements of the Social Workers Act, but to serve and protect the public interest. Information about reprimands, restrictions and license revocations is attached to the member profiles of individuals in the searchable registry, and the College has now created a new web page for sharing decision findings.

We encourage our members to review decision information, to gain insight into the reasons for decisions and the College’s discipline process. It is important for all social workers in Nova Scotia to understand the College’s role in ensuring that Nova Scotians can rely on professional, ethical social work practice.

Summary of Discipline Committee’s decision

Application for Consent Revocation

Member: Eileen Carey
Hearing date: November 27, 2020

Decision date: December 4, 2020

Eileen Carey, Registration # 512, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, was initially registered as a social worker with the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers (the predecessor to the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers) in September 1992.

In 2018, Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (NSCSW) received two complaints regarding Ms. Carey’s practice and conduct as a social worker at a private therapy clinic in Halifax, Nova Scotia from 2014 to 2018 involving Client A. The complaints also concerned Ms. Carey’s conduct with Client A outside of the client/social worker relationship and following the termination of the client/social worker relationship. A lengthy investigation ensued.

During the investigative process, Ms. Carey signed a voluntary undertaking in June 2018, where she agreed to refrain from any direct client practice outside of her supervised employment. Ms. Carey also voluntarily engaged in treatment services with a psychologist at this time.

Further, during the investigation process, the Complaints Committee imposed interim restrictions on Ms. Carey’s social work practice pending the final disposition of the complaints. Ms. Carey’s practice was restricted to direct one-on-one supervision of all clinical sessions conducted by Ms. Carey. No concerns were ever noted during the one-on-one supervision period.

Ms. Carey did not contest the following allegations with respect to Client A:

With respect to the care provided to Client A from January 2014 to August 2016, Ms. Carey:

  1. Failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries by developing a friendship with Client A; attending public events with Client A; texting with Client A outside of the therapeutic role; inappropriately sharing personal information with Client A for non-therapeutic reasons; and exchanging and accepting gifts.
  2. Engaged in a dual/multiple role relationship by developing a friendship with Client A and failing to appropriately address Client A’s feelings toward her.
  3. Engaged in physical contact by engaging in Access Consciousness practices with Client A, a non-evidence-based practice, which involved reciprocal touch during “energy trades”.
  4. Failed to consult colleagues when appropriate.
  5. Failed to refer Client A to another professional when professional boundaries were crossed.
  6. Failed to document the encounters.
  7. Utilized practices that were not evidence-based and/or were outside her scope of practice, including Access Consciousness.

Ms. Carey did not contest that the above allegations amounted to professional misconduct, conduct unbecoming the profession, incompetence and a breach of the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

Disposition

The Application for Consent Revocation was presented to the College’s Discipline Committee for consideration. The Committee heard submissions from legal counsel for the College, Ryan Baxter, and legal counsel for Ms. Carey, Ronald Pizzo. Ms. Carey did not attend the hearing.

The Committee noted that consenting to the Application for Consent Revocation was consistent with the objects of the College set out at section 5 of the Social Workers Act. The Committee stated that the Application served the public interest, preserved the integrity of the social work profession, and maintained public confidence in the profession.

The Discipline Committee consented to the following disposition:

  1. Ms. Carey’s social work registration with NSCSW is permanently revoked.
  2. Ms. Carey will no longer refer to herself as a social worker.
  3. Ms. Carey shall pay a contribution toward the costs incurred by NSCSW in the investigation of this matter in the amount of $15,000.00, on terms agreed upon by the parties.

NSACCW media release: Rent control provides temporary relief to the housing crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 26, 2020

Nova Scotia’s rent increase cap, stalling evictions, and a new housing commission to seek longer-term affordable housing solutions are welcome, but we also need solutions upstream

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX, NS)- Rent control provides temporary relief to the housing crisis and is in line with what advocates have been calling for. The ban on evictions also shows that the Liberal government is recognizing the homelessness crisis and the need for compassion.

We’re pleased that action has been taken to study the issue and propose solutions through the new Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission, but saddened by the lack of representation of those most affected and their community-based advocates.

As Amy Moonshadow, a member of our Coordinating Committee and first voice advocate says, “Although the eviction ban is a good stop-gap measure, it does not deal with the fact that there is still a lack of affordable housing for folks to be safe and well, and they will still likely face eviction at some point, like in the winter, when the ban ends.”

We hope the Commission will move forward quickly on its task of recommending how to increase the stock of affordable housing, but what is needed most is for the government to redress their market-driven strategy for housing.  This is an issue of concern in both urban and rural areas of the province.  As the Chair of our Affordable Housing Working Group and the Antigonish Affordable Housing Society, Colleen Cameron states: “There is a perception that there is no housing crisis in the rural areas since most people who are homeless are visible in the areas where shelters are located. Homelessness is just the tip of the iceberg, the lack of affordable housing throughout the whole province is the iceberg that will kill us.”

The negative impacts of COVID-19 and the housing and financial crises in Nova Scotia are also made worse by income inequality and the long-term underfunding of public services that have reduced our collective capacity to respond to these crises and to public health emergencies.

Today the Nova Scotia Action Coalition for Community Wellbeing (NSACCW) is calling on the federal, provincial, and indeed municipal governments to work with non-profit housing organizations and community groups to support, fund, and build the kind of housing we need–more non-profit and social housing.

Governments also need to look upstream to consider the major factors that are contributing to the lack of housing affordability, such as high levels of poverty, low wages, and inadequate federal and provincial income and social security programs.

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For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Alec Stratford at 902-410-2420 or at Alec.Stratford@NSCSW.org.

NSACCW is a coalition of community members dedicated to working strategically and collaboratively towards community wellbeing and a better quality of life for everyone. We exist to connect a community of action-oriented organizations and people who are committed to social inclusion and building a Nova Scotia where no one lives in poverty.

Bringing the Standards of Practice to Life: Standard 3

Standard 3: Professional Relationships

Social work is a profession that highlights the importance of close and purposeful relationships with clients. These relationships play a crucial role in people’s lives, and directly affect their quality of life and general well-being. Within that important relationship, social workers are required to maintain professional boundaries with clients and to ensure that the professional relationship serves the needs of their clients.

In establishing a relationship with appropriate professional boundaries, a social worker must consider their place of power and the potential for harm to others should that power be misused. The social worker will always be in a position of power with respect to their clients, and must consistently reflect on how this power is being used and perceived. 

It is the social worker’s responsibility to: 

  • Establish the nature of their professional relationship with clients
  • Ethically help and support clients
  • Ensure that their actions and decisions serve the needs of their client(s)
  • Take into account relevant contextual issues
  • Ensure that the dignity, individuality, and rights of all persons are protected
  • Ensure that all current and potential clients have an equal opportunity to access and benefit from their service (no favouritism)
  • Work within their scope of practice
  • Refrain from physical contact and personal relationships with clients
  • Do no harm

Social workers providing services to involuntary clients must be particularly diligent in their critical self-reflection of professional boundaries as there is a great risk of the power dynamic eroding the rights of self-determination and empowerment. These rights are often challenged by the influence and authority embedded in these services, and this power significantly affects the lives of clients. This means that it is incumbent on all social workers to understand that with this power, influence, and authority comes responsibility.  

When social workers are building relationships with involuntary clients, it is important to:

  • Develop professional relationships based upon principles of mutuality, respect, client motivation, capacity, and opportunities for change
  • Encourage clients to self-determine and make decisions that affect their lives in partnership with the social worker
  • Work to convey empathy where structures and systems have worked to oppress and marginalize clients
  • Support the client to understand problematic behaviours while respecting the inherent dignity and worth
  • Social workers work in solidarity with clients to facilitate empowerment

Having a professional relationship with clients often means that clients will entrust very personal information and feelings to social workers during their interactions. It is up to the social worker to always remain conscious of their professional role, and they must safeguard against the emergence of bonds with their clients that engage in boundary violations that are personal, sexual, and/or financial in nature.

Boundaries are the limits that allow for supportive connections that are based on the client’s needs. When these limits are altered or violated, what is allowable in the relationship becomes ambiguous and harmful. To minimize possible harm to a client a social worker should:

  • Be alert to potential, perceived, or actual boundary crossings or violations within the social worker client relationship
  • Consult with colleagues, supervisors and/or relevant regulatory guiding documents to identify potential boundary violations and explore reasonable remedies
  • Document all discussions, consultations, supervision and other steps taken to address boundary issues
  • Develop an understanding of what the warning signs are that you may be engaging in practices that are boundary violations

Boundary violations are acts that breach the core intent of the professional-client relationship, and they happen when professionals exploit the relationship and misuse their power. Here are some signs that the professional relationship between a social worker and their client could lack appropriate professional boundaries:

  • They refer to each other as friends
  • They are giving or receiving gifts
  • The client has the social worker’s personal phone number or other significant personal information
  • They socialize outside of the professional setting
  • The social worker reveals excessive personal information to their client
  • The social worker is granting favours to a client or receiving favours from their client
  • They are communicating with or seeing each other outside of the professionalrelationship
  • The social worker has their client on their personal social media platforms
  • The social worker is treating a client as “special” and providing opportunities not available to everyone
  • They end their professional relationship and start a personal relationship
  • The social worker is attracted to a particular client, or not appropriately addressing the attraction expressed to them.
  • The social worker is keeping or asking a client to keep a secret or are keeping a secret for the client

If a social worker is engaging in any of the above they could be in violation the NSCSW Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, and may receive a complaint for this. 

The skillful management of professional boundaries is a hallmark of our profession and enhances our integrity as professionals. It is a skill that needs to be developed and maintained throughout a social worker’s career. 

For more information about the responsibilities of social workers and the professional relationship, feel free to look at the following resources:

NSCSW references

Video

Publications

Most of these are open access! For the articles in EBSCO SocINDEX, full-text access is available for free to all NSCSW members who create a CASW account, or you may be able to read them via another journal database.


Bringing the Standards of Practice to Life is an ongoing blog series that explores the 11 standards in NSCSW’s Standards of Practice.

The NSCSW Standards of Practice detail the responsibilities of social workers to their clients, colleagues, employers, and society. These standards perform several functions, which include: 

  • Establish professional expectations for social workers
  • Promote the protection of the public.
  • Provide a basis for professional development and continuing education.
  • Put into action the values, ethics, knowledge and skills expected of social workers.
  • Enhance the value and credibility of the profession.

In sharing these standards, we hope to engage the public and our members in understanding the uniqueness of the social work profession.

Previous entries in this series:

Moving the bar

Reviewing the PC plan for Nova Scotians’ mental health

The Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia introduced their new vision for mental health services last week. The plan is an early indicator that Nova Scotians and their political decision makers, including those on the right wing of the political spectrum, are starting to consider the overall health and well-being of our population as part of their political goals. It’s a plan rooted in transformative change and provides a clear vision for mental health and addictions services that we have not seen since the NDP released their strategy “Together We Can” while in government almost a decade ago. While the plan certainly has some questionable policy choices that stem from dogmatic free-market thinking, the vision it presents is transformative and the PCs deserve credit for putting forward a bold plan. 

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers released a Social Policy Framework in March of this year. The Social Policy Framework was designed to support the implementation of a progressive vision for this province, and to challenge the dominant ideology around the relationship between the private sector, the public sector and civil society, in order to create a more equitable and fair Nova Scotia. Using the framework, the College has developed an analysis of the PC mental health plan to help inform the discussion and discourse. As we head into the provincial election next year the NSCSW hopes to conduct a similar analysis on party platforms on key issues such as poverty, mental health, and child protection. 

Our analysis on the PC mental health plan concludes that their proposal clearly places mental health as an interconnected issue that impacts many aspects of our lives, but that the plan must go deeper and provide programming and resources further upstream to address the deep structural inequities that exist in our society that impact mental health. 

Universality is a core principle in the Social Policy Framework and is the strongest part of the PC mental health plan. The PC plan indicates that as a political party they are committed to seeing mental health as health, and as a right that everyone should have access to regardless of income. By opening up MSI as a single payer system for mental health practitioners the PC party aims to dismantle our current 2-tier mental health care system. The Progressive Conservative Party should be given kudos for putting forward a plan for universal mental health care. 

The PC plan offers a pathway for greater social inclusion if the right parameters and regulations are set around the establishment of small private providers. However, much more needs to be added to this plan in order to ensure the principle of social inclusion is met. The proposed department of mental health and addiction must also challenge the unquestioned hegemony of the bio-medical model, create space for bio-pyscho-social models, and support this shift through the department’s proposed training initiatives. It should also be noted that the NSCSW has only 17 Private Practitioners who identify as African Nova Scotian; these numbers are even lower for psychologists and counselling therapists. The PC mental health plan has a recruitment strategy, but it must clearly set the goal of ensuring recruitment of more diverse clinicians (gender, race, sexual orientation, age, etc.). This will provide a more accessible service for diverse and marginalized service users.

Re-imagining social policy requires abandoning government paternalism, and addressing the legacy of colonialism. While opening up MSI as a billing option provides Indigenous communities with another option to provide mental health services, not all Indigenous healers will be registered professionals; thought and intention must be put into how to best support these initiatives.

Notably, the PC plan calls for 24/7 telehealth and virtual care which would be “administrated and regulated” by their new department of mental health and addictions. We see no reason why that should be contracted out when we have a current mental health line offering tele-services through the public system. Rather than privatizing this service, expanding teleservice and virtual care in the public system would be much cheaper and would deliver higher quality services.

Social policy needs to attend to both paid work and unpaid caregiving through policies that address precarious work and caregiving for children, aging parents and/or partners. While we understand that there will be more PC policy proposals released as we near a provincial election, the current provision of minimum wage, labour standards and the expense and worry of childcare and eldercare has a profound impact on mental health. These issues must be tackled to create greater equity and equality, and to move Nova Scotians towards greater mental health well-being 

The PC plan for mental health contributes to climate justice as it provides public investment in professional care jobs which is an investment in green jobs. As Naomi Kline has noted: the green economy is the caring economy. 

What is clear is that PC party is prepared to make a major investment into mental health and addiction care. The party clearly identifies that we have underfunded mental health and addiction for years and that this has had major consequences. Currently, Nova Scotia spends 6.7% of its total health spending on mental health and addictions. The World Health Organization recommends that jurisdictions spend at a minimum 10% of their total health spending on mental health and addictions, this would represent an investment of 230 million into our system sin Nova Scotia. While the PC plan doesn’t get us to that 230 million its commitment of 103 million is a significant step forward. 

Federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments need to cooperate in order to deliver programs and services such as mental health care to Nova Scotians. With the significant investment being committed to mental health spending through the PC mental health plan; we would advocate that this investment could be leveraged to call on the federal government to fill in the gap and get us to 10% of all health spending going to mental health and addiction.  

Finally, moving to an independent ministry that has oversight of mental health and addictions supports the democratization of mental health and creates a whole-of-society approach that has the potential to achieve greater equality. 

While the PC plan certainly has gaps and is dominated by market-based thinking, it offers a new starting point for envisioning transformative change in our mental health system. It also reflects a society that is looking to change the relationship between the public service a private sphere and civil society. It is a welcome change from many conservative policies we’ve seen move forward before.


Alec Stratford
NSCSW Executive Director/Registrar
November 5, 2020

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