March 21, 2005
(Health and Community Services)
support for mental health and addictions
The Williams government is acting on
its commitment to remove the barriers to good health and will
enhance the necessary supports for individuals suffering with mental
illness and addictions, Health and Community Services Minister John
Ottenheimer and Finance Minister Loyola Sullivan announced today.
"Mental health and addictions services must be comprehensive,
compassionate and responsive," said Minister Ottenheimer. "We want
to build a system where those suffering from addictions or
persistent mental illness can seek the help they need to have the
best quality of life possible."
Budget 2005 furthers statements made in the Throne Speech on the
development of a provincial mental health and addictions strategy,
unveiling a $3.4 million investment to strengthen resources to
assist persons struggling with mental illness and addictions, with
particular emphasis on substance abuse and gambling.
OxyContin and Prescription Drug Abuse
Government recognizes that the misuse of all prescription drugs can
have lasting and devastating effects on individuals� lives, as well
as their families. Building on government�s initial response to the
OxyContin Task Force report, $1 million will be devoted to the
implementation of key recommendations of the Task Force including:
- Establish a methadone
maintenance program to treat clients suffering from opiate
addictions in St. John's. Treatment will be offered through the
Recovery Centre in Pleasantville;
- Implement an approved
methadone-training program for any physician who requests and
obtains a methadone licence in the province;
- Enhance detox services at the
Recovery Centre to include a medical component;
- Proceed with an adolescent day
treatment program at the Recovery Centre in Pleasantville;
- Open four detoxification beds at
the Humberwood Treatment program in Corner Brook;
- Hire more addictions counsellors
to enhance services for youth across the province; and
- Support the Aids Committee of
Newfoundland and Labrador to deliver a needle exchange program
for the St. John's area.
In addition to the on-going $1
million commitment, a $740,000 capital investment will be made on
one-time renovation costs, funded through the department�s capital
Government will also proceed with changes to the Medical Act,
consistent with those recommended by the OxyContin Task Force,
tabling amendments this spring.
"All of us � government, professionals, communities, industry and
families need to continue to work to address the significant health
and social impacts of problematic substance abuse and addictions,"
said Minister Ottenheimer. "Together we will be successful."
These new initiatives will complement steps already taken such as
the implementation of tamper-resistant prescription pads, continuing
education for health professionals and youth, setting provincial
guidelines for methadone treatment and the recruitment of a
provincial addictions consultant.
As our mental health consumers continue to live meaningful lives in
the community, government is dedicated to providing them the
resources they need to continue to access services which enable them
to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
Building on the $1 million investment made in 2004-05, government is
committing a further $1 million to mental health initiatives in
Budget 2005 for important services such as:
- More case managers to work
longer term with clients and families to help people with mental
illness re-integrate into their communities;
- Expand the existing home support
demonstration project for 25 additional clients, shifting more
specialized care and treatment services to the community; and
- Crisis response intervention
such as transportation, training for ambulance drivers and
constant observation while in an emergency room situation.
With these new resources, government
is living up to its commitment to provide better access for those
suffering with mental illness. These initiatives complement the
recommendations of the Luther Report and establish a solid base for
quality and accessible programming for the severely mentally ill.
"Mental health is as important as physical health," Minister
Ottenheimer added. "This investment will break down the barriers
between people with mental illness and the services they need. This
will lead to healthier people and healthier communities."
In light of serious issues facing families surrounding gambling
addictions in our province, government is taking strong action in
Budget 2005 to reduce its harmful effects.
Effective immediately, the number of video lottery terminals (VLTs)
in the province is frozen at the current number (2,687).
Furthermore, beginning next year, a five-year VLT reduction plan
will begin which will see the number of machines in the province
reduced by approximately 15 per cent. Government will also seek
innovative ways to program VLTs to deter misuse of these machines.
"Addressing the effect of gambling addictions will take a
comprehensive approach, we know it is not enough to simply reduce
the number of machines," said Minister Sullivan. "Our VLT strategy
has two key elements. First, we will reduce the number of VLTs in
the province, along with reducing the accessibility to machines and
working to find ways to make them less attractive to problem
gamblers. Second, we want to ensure that those who need counselling
and addiction services have access, and as such, we will increase
accessibility to the necessary support services."
Government will also direct $740,000 in new funding to enhance
services for gambling addictions in our province, with a focus on
the following areas:
- Training for primary care
physicians and other providers to screen and identify problem
- Enhance public awareness with a
campaign to inform individuals of the risks of gambling;
- Create a provincial toll-free
gambling counselling line based at Humberwood Treatment Centre
in Corner Brook to reach more individuals in need;
- Hire five new addictions
- Increase the capacity of
self-help and community groups to work with the formal system to
address the issues of gambling in the community;
- Competency-based training in
gambling addictions for all addictions staff; and
- Complete a prevalence study, as
previously announced, to examine the incidence of gambling and
problem gambling in our province.
In keeping with the goal to improve
access to services, these investments are supported through the
monies of the 2004 FMM Health Accord. Investments in addictions
further government�s ongoing financial commitment of $4.1 million
each year. This year�s funding represents a 32 per cent increase for
Carolyn Chaplin, Health and Community Services, (709) 729-1377,
Diane Keough, Finance, (709) 729-6830, 685-4401
VLT action plan
Introduced in 1991, there are
currently 2,687 video lottery terminals (VLTs) throughout the
province, the highest per capita number of terminals in Canada. All
VLTs are owned and installed by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. In
Newfoundland and Labrador, the terminals are permitted to be located
only on premises licensed to sell alcohol.
For a segment of the population, VLTs are highly addictive, and
these addictions have led to a variety of social problems.
Government has designed a VLT Action Plan to address these concerns.
The plan has two key components: first, government will reduce the
number of machines and accessibility to them; and second, government
will enhance counseling and addiction services for those who need
Effective immediately, the number of VLTs in the province is frozen
at the current number. Furthermore, beginning in 2006, a five-year
VLT reduction plan will see the number of machines reduced by
approximately 15 per cent to 2,280.
Currently, if a lounge operator has more than one bar, and therefore
more than one liquor licence, each licence is treated as a separate
site. There are as many as 20 machines in some multi-site locations.
Government will amend the Video Lottery Regulations to reflect the
original policy intent that not more that five VLTs are permitted
per establishment. To ensure a manageable transition for operations
which have more than the permitted amount, the number of VLTs will
be reduced over a five-year period. There are only 67 establishments
which have in excess of five terminals.
Government will ask the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) to
conduct a review of responsible gaming features so as to implement
enhanced measures to discourage or eliminate prolonged play, and to
make players more aware of the risks of excessive play.
New funding will be directed to enhance services for gambling
addictions in our province, including: training of primary health
care teams, additional addictions counselors with experience in
family intervention, increased public awareness to support better
identification and avoidance of problem gambling, and shared care
arrangements for family physicians who will work with psychiatrists
to address the needs of those with gambling addictions.
2005 03 21