Saturday, August 30, 2008

Three cheers for outspoken health bureaucrat


From the August 28th edition of The Chronicle Herald:
By Marilla Stephenson (pictured)

CHERYL DOIRON is one of those bureaucrats who, happily for us, is more concerned about doing the right thing than she is with fawning over her political masters.

That’s why the deputy health minister is on the top of my Three Cheers list for her honest assessment of the dismal state of mental health services in Nova Scotia.

Even better, Doiron’s explosive missive was delivered in public, damn the torpedoes and other potential consequences.

She is exactly the kind of bureaucrat Nova Scotia could use more of.

At the Canadian Mental Health Association’s national conference in Dartmouth last weekend, Doiron issued a plea for mental health organizations and the public to push harder to have politicians direct more money into mental health services.

"It’s very hard to get it to be the primary issue, particularly for politicians who are making budget decisions . . . because they are not getting the same pressure about mental health as they get about cancer and coronary disease and diabetes," Doiron told delegates in a speech.

"We, working from the opportunity we have within government, organizations such as (the national association) and the Nova Scotia (association) and other groups, and all of us, collectively need to be doing something much more significant to make this a burning-bridge issue for decision-makers."

Doiron’s primary concern is the long wait times for psychiatric care for people suffering from mental illness, especially children. She noted that while spending for mental illness by her department has increased in recent years, the percentage has decreased in proportion to the total health-care budget.
To read the entire article, click here (as of February 8th, 2010, the entire article is no longer available).

Photograph of Marilla Stephenson courtesy of The Chronicle Herald.

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