Sexual health centre facing ‘fiscal crisis’

John Brannen
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Pictou County centre may see fewer hours, activities

Rayann Toner, the Executive Director at the Pictou County Centre for Sexual Health says the centre may see fewer hours and outreach activities without increased funding from the provincial government. 

NEW GLASGOW – The Pictou County Centre for Sexual Health (PCCSH) is facing an uncertain financial future.

At meeting held last week in Halifax, members of the Nova Scotia Association for Sexual Health (NSASH) met with Health Minister David Wilson to discuss what the association calls an impending fiscal crisis.

Rayann Toner, the executive director at PCCSH, attended the meeting with the minister.

“NSASH was able to better inform the minister on the services that we provide, but there was no promise of additional funding made,” she said.

NSASH supports seven sexual health centres throughout the province, but has not seen an increase in funding from the Department of Health and Wellness in seven years, despite rising costs.

“The Pictou County centre sees the highest rates of pregnancy tests in the province, outside the HRM,” said Toner. “Without additional funding, this centre will see hours reduced significantly and fewer outreach activities.”

Toner holds regular office hours throughout the year, but is reduced to one day a week in the summers.

NSASH will continue to lobby the provincial government for increased funding and met with members of the Liberal and PC caucuses as well.

PCCSH provides resources for schools and educators on sexually transmitted diseases (STIs), safe sex practices, cyber-bullying and self-esteem programs.

Local staff member Laurie McIntrye, the community resource coordinator, has delivered presentations in mostly junior and middle schools and spoke at NGJH’s annual conference on wellness last week. Her topic was the acceptance of gender identity and sexual identity.

She said that NSASH’s free condom service has distributed over 117,000 condoms over the past two years. Now, the service is in jeopardy.

“The company that provides us with free condoms has terminated their national condom distribution program,” Toner said. “It means the cost to provide this valuable service will fall on NSASH.”

According to Toner, on of the primary sexual health issues facing Pictou County is a lack of safe sex practices to prevent the spread of STIs among youth.

There are seven centres are located throughout the province – in Yarmouth, Lunenburg County, Halifax, Sheet Harbour, Cumberland County, Pictou County, and Cape Breton. They provide health and safety information, support and services for youth at risk, and support for educators.

Organizations: NSASH, Pictou County Centre, Nova Scotia Association for Sexual Health Department of Health and Wellness

Geographic location: Pictou County, Halifax, NEW GLASGOW Yarmouth Lunenburg County Sheet Harbour Cumberland County Cape Breton

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