Report from the Legislature – February 04, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges in all areas of our lives; just consider the new ways we are doing business, educating our children, socializing, and staying active. There is no question that the pandemic has taken a significant toll on all of us in terms of both our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Now more than ever, it is important that we talk openly about challenges we may be facing – something our province recently acknowledged and promoted as part of Bell Let’s Talk Day.

To support this goal, the Government of Saskatchewan is investing $435 million in mental health and addictions services and supports, an increase of 97 per cent since 2007. Through this funding we have increased the number of beds in mental health facilities while funding more staff throughout the province.

While these are meaningful actions that are making a difference, we recognize that all of this on its own is not enough. We need to continue to reach out, talk to each other, and reduce the stigma associated with mental health challenges. If you or someone you know is struggling, consider calling HealthLine 811. You will be connected to a licenced healthcare professional to share your concerns in a free, safe, and confidential way. Residents also have access to online advice and resources for stress and anxiety, as well as the COVID-19 Harm Reduction Advice service. For more information, please visit

Whether dealing with the loneliness of isolation, or concern for your loved ones, there are support services readily available.

Our government in partnership with post-secondary education providers across the province, recently launched an initiative that focuses on supporting student mental health. Healthy Campus Saskatchewan will lay out the groundwork that will help us better support our students throughout their education. This initiative will focus on important supports such as mental health, suicide awareness and prevention, and pandemic response.

Every day, Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers make meaningful contributions to the health and wellbeing of our province and the world. On March 5, 2020, Innovation Saskatchewan and the Ministry of Agriculture launched a challenge, asking “what technological solutions can assist Saskatchewan farmers in actively monitoring their mental health?”

A virtual pitch competition was held and a panel of government and agriculture producers selected Bridges Health – a Saskatoon-based mental health services company in operation for over 20 years – to design and develop the Avail app. Avail offers producers a confidential system to actively record and analyze their mental health, access online resources and videos, and the ability to connect with care providers in their communities. The app encourages regular check-ins and can help address the unique challenges our farmers and ranchers face. This made-in-Saskatchewan app is available in the App Store.

With the extension of public health orders, our government has renewed its commitment to small business by extending the Small Business Emergency Payment program. This is designed to help business owners follow public health orders while navigating the economic challenges of COVID-19. The Small Business Emergency Payment program provided $5.9 million in assistance to 1,521 applicants for the December period. This new phase will accept applications for December and/or January payment until March 2, 2021. Please contact our MLA office for assistance with this program.

The COVID-19 pandemic affects us all and while we can take comfort in the fact that vaccines are being produced and administered, Saskatchewan needs more need clarity and certainty from the federal government. To that end, we will continue to advocate for both a consistent supply of vaccines and a consistent supply of information. In the meantime, we must continue to take precautions and focus on the support and services Saskatchewan people need.