SHERBROOKE | Recognizing that it would be “irresponsible” to launch “empty promises”, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois has revised down one of his first commitments in mental health. Rather than promising an end to waiting lists, Québec solidaire is now committed to reducing them to a minimum.
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In a commitment announced last April, as in its financial framework unveiled on September 9, the left-wing party promised “the end of waiting lists”.
“What I’m telling you is that we’re going to end it as quickly as possible, then we’re going to end it as much as possible, there are differences in wording, but the idea is the same” , justified the spokesperson in solidarity, during a press briefing in Sherbrooke, Sunday.
Photo Marc-André Gagnon
The spokesperson for Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, and his candidate in Saint-François, Dr. Mélissa Généreux.
“Promises thrown in the air, I think that in general health Quebecers are tired of that. So what I’m telling you is that we’re going to reduce these lists to a minimum,” he said.
Doing more would be “irresponsible,” he suggested, partly because mental health waiting lists keep getting longer.
“In two years, mental health waiting lists in Quebec have gone from 16,000 to 21,000. Despite the CAQ’s promises, the situation has gotten worse,” said Mr. Nadeau-Dubois.
In several regions, the wait is counted in months, even in some places, “it’s more than a year”, worries the co-spokesperson for QS.
“The pandemic, it must be said, had the effect of an earthquake on the mental health of Quebecers, he observed. Things weren’t going well before the pandemic, but now it’s even worse. Something has to be done.”
“What we need is a government that understands that the head is part of the body and that a depression deserves all the attention that a broken arm will receive. Mental health is a national emergency,” he said.
As announced last April, following the inauguration of Dr. Mélissa Généreux in the riding of Saint-François, Québec solidaire promises to hire 900 new psychologists, in addition to 1,000 other additional professionals in the public network.
The cost of this commitment, which would amount to up to $280 million per year – but only over time, the party said – would represent a total investment of $700 million over four years. Of this amount, part would be used to close the wage gap of about 30% with the private sector in mental health.
According to Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, such investments, which would be “unprecedented” and “historic”, would make it possible to “solve the mental health crisis in Quebec”, in addition to helping to unclog the health network.
“40% of visits to family doctors in Quebec are for mental health problems,” said the supportive spokesperson.
According to doctor specializing in public health and solidarity candidate Mélissa Généreux, investing more in mental health would also reduce the number of antidepressants consumed in Quebec.
“My colleagues tell me themselves, for lack of other tools in the therapeutic arsenal, we are often forced to go and prescribe antidepressants because we cannot tell people: ‘wait a year, you should have access psychotherapy or other mental health alternatives.”
No ‘Lipton promise’
Neither Mr. Nadeau-Dubois nor Dr. Généreux wanted to advance on what could represent a reasonable time to access a mental health professional in the public network.
“Each time politicians have made promises like that, they have been broken: 90 minutes in the emergency room said François Legault in 2018, a doctor by Quebec, promised Pauline Marois, Jean Charest and François Legault, ”recalled M Nadeau-Dubois.
“My colleague Vincent Marissal calls it Lipton promises,” he continued. It makes a beautiful clip on TV, you add a little water, it makes a soup and then these health promises, that’s what broke the confidence of Quebecers in their system.