Statement from Karla Bernard Calling for a Reviewed PEI Mental Health Act: A Necessary Step to Address Mental Health Challenges

Charlottetown, PE - In recent years, Prince Edward Island has witnessed a significant increase in the prevalence of mental health and addiction challenges. The outdated PEI Mental Health Act, originally drafted in 1996, is no longer equipped to address the pressing issues facing Islanders today. It is well past time government take action and table a reviewed PEI Mental Health Act during the upcoming fall sitting of the Legislature.

The numbers reflect the urgency of this matter. In the past year alone, the Charlottetown Police responded to nearly 2,000 mental health and wellbeing calls, a substantial increase from the 686 calls they received in 2018. These numbers paint a stark picture of the growing mental health crisis on our Island.

The current PEI Mental Health Act does not take into account the fact that many individuals dealing with mental health and addiction challenges can and should be treated in the community, not just detained in a hospital. It also doesn’t take into account the fact that not all individuals who are in need of help are a “safety risk.”

As elected representatives, MLAs have a responsibility to our constituents, and legislation plays a crucial role in fulfilling that duty. Only 27 individuals on Prince Edward Island have the authority to bring forward and vote on legislation. The government must live up to its commitment to review the Mental Health Act, as they promised years ago.

The consultation process for the review of the Mental Health Act has already taken place. Islanders shared their concerns and perspectives, and now it is time for the government to act on this valuable input. We need an updated Mental Health Act that reflects the realities of the 21st century and provides the necessary legal framework to address the mental health and addiction challenges Islanders face.

However, changing legislation is just the first step. To truly make a difference, we must also invest in essential services and supports for individuals struggling with mental health and addiction issues. This distressing growth in mental health and addiction problems demands comprehensive and proactive solutions.

The Green caucus calls on the King government to prioritize the well-being of all Islanders by tabling a reviewed PEI Mental Health Act during the fall sitting of the Legislature. This legislation should be a cornerstone of our efforts to provide the necessary care and support to those in need, while also addressing the root causes of this growing crisis.