NEW GLASGOW, N.S.
When it comes to mental health in Nova Scotia, Robbie Weatherbee doesn’t want talk. She wants change.
Two years ago their family lost her daughter’s fiancé to suicide. He had sought treatment at the Aberdeen Hospital but was released before he felt ready.
“Every time I say it, it’s still shocking,” she said. “I still get emotional. It’s something you just can’t comprehend.”
She’s been doing everything she can since then to help make a difference so other families in Nova Scotia don’t have to feel the same grief.
“People are getting sent home and dying. In 2017 there was 147 suicides in Nova Scotia. Twice as many people as died as car accidents,” she said.
It’s evident to her that there’s a systemic problem that needs to be changed.
That’s why she and others, who are part of a Facebook group #HowManyNSHA-IWK, are encouraging their members and people across Nova Scotia to sign a petition calling for an inquiry into the hiring practices of the senior mental health and addiction management staff at the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
“The petition will go to the Legislature soon and we will be asking that the current government to hold the board accountable,” Weatherbee said.
“We don’t think they’re hiring the right people for the jobs because the system is getting much worse, rather than better.”
The Progressive Conservative Party has backed the petition and will be introducing it to the Legislature. Currently, copies of the petition are located in each of the PC MLAs offices. It can also be obtained by visiting the #HowManyNSHA-IWK Facebook page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
PC Health Critic Karla MacFarlane believes it’s a matter that needs to change soon.
"What we have witnessed is the system keeps getting worse and people are falling through the cracks. I see it every other week at my office.”
MacFarlane acknowledged the Nova Scotia Health Authority is a large organization and has its own challenges, but she said it’s up to the premier and the Liberal government to hold them accountable for all aspects of mental health services.
“There needs to be accountability and we’re not seeing that,” she said. “We can’t continue going with the status quo.”
Signatures must be obtained by Feb. 28 and in order to be introduced in the Legislature must be hand written.
“We really are asking that people come out and support this,” Weatherbee said. “This is their chance to do something. They can sign something that’s going to go to the Legislature and hopefully we can have some kind of action on it.”
The petition reads
“We, the undersigned, support this prayer to the NS House of Assembly and Minister of Health to request a formal independent inquiry into the original hiring process for the position of Senior Director (Provincial) of Mental Health and Addictions at the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), and all hiring processes of Directors and Senior Directors from the time that the NSHA was created to present day. We ask that the Minister of Health hold accountable the NSHA to place the best interests of the public above all other considerations in such hiring processes."