After a week marked by several dramas with mental health issues in the background, the union and community sector fears that the new investments of 27 million announced by Quebec for the field will end in a “sword in the water “.
According to the budget presented Tuesday by the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, Quebec will invest 40 million more this year to increase access to mental health, homelessness and addiction services (211 million over five years).
Specifically to address mental health issues, the amounts reach $27 million in 2023-2024. In addition, 22 million will be invested to support young people in difficulty and to implement the recommendations of the Laurent Commission.
However, we know little for the moment as to how these new sums will be spent, points out the Alliance of professional and technical personnel of health and social services (APTS).
Minister Girard’s budget prides itself on wanting to “improve support for community organizations working in the field of health and social services” and “increase mental health, homelessness and addiction services”, without more details.
“These investments are a step in the right direction, but the budget is short on detail. We ask the government to announce its colors quickly on how these commitments will be implemented to truly improve accessibility to services, ”laments the president of the union in a press release issued at the end of the afternoon.
In the current context of labor shortages, the APTS fears that these new sums will only be a “sword in the water” if they are not accompanied by “improvements in terms of working conditions and organization” for stakeholders.
In the community sector, these new sums are considered “welcome”, but still “insufficient” in order to fill the lack of resources, indicates the co-coordinator of the Regroupement des Ressources alternatives en Santé maladie du Québec (RRASMQ), Anne-Marie Boucher .
“It would be a mistake to think of mental action only in terms of services, for example in the public. Acting in mental health also means investing in social housing, fighting poverty: structuring measures that pay off and make a concrete difference in people’s lives,” she adds.
However, this budget contains little “material for hope” for Quebecers living in precariousness, says Anne-Marie Boucher. “For example, a reinvestment in AccèsLogis […], measures to increase disposable income, social assistance, and ensure that public services meet the needs of citizens,” she says.
Despite the tragedies of Laval, Amqui and Rosemont which shook Quebec, the issue of mental health gets “a footnote” in the Girard budget, lamented Quebec solidaire. The Parti Québécois also denounced “unambitious sums”.
“It’s extremely important,” defended Minister Girard, who recalled that the government has made significant investments since taking office. “The needs have increased,” he admits.
The co-coordinator of the RRASMQ, Anne-Marie Boucher, however, refuses to throw stones at the minister immediately given the complexity of these files. If she welcomes the new investments in the crisis centers, Ms. Boucher considers that a tour of the field is essential to hear the solutions that people in the field have to offer.
“It would be illusory if, in the space of a week, a government could learn all the lessons from the tragedies that have unfolded lately and immediately deploy whatever it takes,” she said.