Ministerial Question Period: Ministerial Priorities

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

Share this post:

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: Minister Saks, thank you for being here today. I add my words of welcome. This is your first visit to this chamber since your appointment as the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. I really appreciate the wide range of issues that you have covered. I also know well the work that you had done before politics to create dialogue across communities. I have great respect for the work that you have done and continue to do.

I may be the last questioner. As we approach the end of this hour, could you summarize for us what your priorities are given the wide range of very pressing issues around mental health and addiction? What are your top priorities?

Hon. Ya’ara Saks, P.C., M.P., Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health: Thank you for the question. First, it is not lost on me that for nearly every household in this country, the illegal, pervasive and poison toxic drug supply is becoming more apparent in many more communities, both in our urban centres and rural communities. It is top of mind for me to ensure that we continue to offer services and supports to supplement the health jurisdictions in each province and territory in making sure that those who use substances have access to health services, and that we reduce stigma and get people to the health care that they need.

I would say that my second priority, as wisely mentioned by Senator Kutcher, is mental health literacy. Starting with our youth, we need to ensure that we have upstream prevention services and supports, such as the Integrated Youth Services. We will also be investing in the Icelandic model this year in seven locations across the country. We know that if we want to stop the cycles of mental health struggles and addiction, then we need to ensure that our young people are getting the health services that they need, when they need them and at an early age to create that safety net of prevention.

Senator Cardozo: Thank you. I also wish to ask about the other part of your portfolio as the Associate Minister of Health, and whether there is any time left to deal with that. Are there other issues that you are dealing with? Overall, can you say a few words about your interactions with the provinces? Ultimately, it is they who are providing the services.

Ms. Saks: Absolutely. I think that, as the Associate Minister of Health with Minister Holland, it’s important to have a woman’s voice at the table, particularly when it comes to sexual and reproductive rights and health access at this time. Those rights are health services in this country, and I fully intend to see them stay that way.

With our provincial jurisdictions, I will always strive to ensure that we have a collaborative approach when it comes to the opioid and overdose crises that we’re seeing. Not all jurisdictions are on the same page with the interventions that are needed, but we are all on the same page with the priority of saving lives. I have engaged in dialogue throughout my career.

Share this post: