A Saskatchewan mother, alongside the NDP, is advocating for better access to mental health and addictions care in the province.
Genny Churchill’s son, Jordan Wakelam, died of a fentanyl overdose in January while on a wait list for both drug treatment and a psychiatrist.
Before that in October of last year, she said her son was turned away from the Wakamow Detox Centre in Moose Jaw.
Now, Churchill is calling on the provincial government to address the opiod crisis in Saskatchewan ahead of the next budget.
“That’s next year — and how long after (the province) says ‘Here’s the budget money’ is it going to take for a plan to be put in place?” she asked. “You can throw money at this; you can say there are going to be more beds, there are going to be more treatment facilities opening, there’s going to be harm reduction, but what’s the focused plan?”
“There needs to be will, and there appears to be no will.”
Meanwhile, Health Minister Jim Reiter reinforced that the province is working on bettering its addictions services. He pointed to the recently announced plans to provide clean pipes to Saskatchewan injection drug users as a way to transition away from needles, for instance. However, Reiter noted it all takes time.
“If you’re adding addictions beds, those sorts of things, that doesn’t happen overnight; you have to procure it,” he explained. “Having said that, I think there’s a pretty reasonable chance you’re going to see some in-year announcements coming as well.”