We Need Mental Health Care Improvements, not more PC public relations: Notley

EDMONTON – New Democrat Leader, Rachel Notley released an internal AHS briefing note today that highlights serious safety risks and security concerns for mental health patients and staff within Edmonton's health facilities.

"We have seen a number of tragic stories in the news lately that describe situations where the mental health system has failed Albertans. Now, we see today that this government is not only acutely aware of serious capacity and safety issues within Edmonton's health facilities but it's doing nothing to fix the problem. This is yet another example of how the PCs have got their priorities wrong," said Notley.

Some of the most serious facility issues outlined in the document include: 

  • Major capacity issues leading to multiple patients with serious psychiatric problems in the same room
  • Patients with developmental disabilities admitted with general population
  • No outdoor space for children who may be in the hospital for months
  • Lack of anti suicide/harm safety features
  • Substandard spaces that present safety risks

The briefing note was obtained through a Freedom of Information application and highlights the most serious issues discovered in the Zone 2030 Plan evaluations.

Included with the briefing note is a confidential memo titled "Advice to CEO/Minister" which explains that the Zone 2030 plan "has been the subject of a FOIPP request" and that once the information is public, "media will focus on capital deficiencies and recommended capital investment projects". It goes on to provide key messages for AHS and the ministry to use in response to questions about the deficiencies.
In almost all of the cases relating to mental health deficiencies, the briefing note advises that the deficiency is being reviewed.

"The PCs are manipulating the media and the public with carefully crafted messages when they should be focusing time and resources on developing a plan to deal with a serious infrastructure problem," said Notley

"This government needs to come clean with Albertans and admit that the PCs have failed to maintain our healthcare facilities and that neglect has placed many patients and front-line workers in serious danger. Instead of making healthcare a priority, we get more and more warnings from Jim Prentice and his ministers, that they intend to cut back even more in the health and education services that Alberta families depend on.”