The Government of Saskatchewan today released a new Action Plan for Mental Health and Addictions that will create 500 new addictions treatment spaces and a central intake system that makes care more accessible and responsive.

New funding to support work beginning immediately under the new Action Plan will total $49.4 million when fully implemented in the fifth year of the plan. 

The new Action Plan has three pillars of focus: building capacity for treatment, improving the system itself, and transitioning to a recovery-oriented system of care for addictions treatment. 

Work will begin immediately on implementing a central intake system that patients can contact directly to refer themselves for mental health and addictions services. A central intake will make the system more accessible to patients and enable care providers to better coordinate care for patients across the system and throughout patients’ care and recovery journey. 

“To build capacity for addictions treatment, we are setting a new target of adding at least 500 addictions treatment spaces in communities across the province over the next five years,” Mental Health and Addictions Minister Tim McLeod said. “With new announcements coming in the weeks and months ahead, we are on track to exceed our original target of adding 150 addictions treatment spaces. New funding in the Action Plan will further accelerate this work for a new near-term target of 200 spaces by the end of this fiscal year.”

The addition of 500 spaces over the next five years will more than double the number of addictions treatment spaces that Saskatchewan funds in communities across the province, including detox and pre-treatment, inpatient and outpatient treatment, post-treatment and supportive living spaces. 

“Our plan is to build a full continuum of care that includes detox, inpatient treatment, and supportive living that is as seamless as possible and recognizes that the pathway to recovery is different for each patient,” McLeod said. “This plan helps ensure the safety of both those suffering with addictions and those in their communities.”

Transitioning to a Recovery-Oriented System of Care will make sure that the focus of the addictions treatment system is on getting people the treatment that they need. The Recovery-Oriented System of Care (ROSC) model takes a holistic, flexible, and individualized approach to treatment. It recognizes that the traditional 28-day model is insufficient for treating highly addictive drugs such as opioids and methamphetamine, which often require longer treatment in order to succeed. The ROSC model focuses on building people back up from an overall perspective, fostering a sense of ownership over the recovery journey, and promoting overall well-being to create the foundation and winning conditions needed to support lasting recovery for patients.

Recognizing that a cross-government approach is required to address mental health, addictions, and related issues, the new Action Plan includes collaborative initiatives between the ministries of Health, Social Services, Education and Corrections, Policing, and Public Safety, with work beginning immediately on the following initiatives: 

  • in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, further expanding the Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools initiative to five more school divisions in time for the next school year, with more to come in future years;
  • in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Services, providing wrap-around mental health and addiction supports for residents of the new supportive housing units announced today as part of the Provincial Approach to Homelessness; and
  • creating a Provincial Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT) program to make addictions medicines more accessible across the province, including for patients in correctional institutions and after their release, in collaboration with the Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety.

In addition to the work beginning immediately, Saskatchewan’s new five-year Action Plan for Mental Health and Addictions includes other goals and priorities that will continue to be advanced in future budget years. The new Action Plan replaces Saskatchewan’s existing 10-year Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan which is due to sunset in 2024.