Liberals promise mental health commission
“We’re not going to reach our full potential as people until we deal with the issues that are holding us back”
Nunavummiut traumatized by abuse can expect improved counseling and care if the Liberals are re-elected, according to Nunavut’s member of Parliament.
Nancy Karetak-Lindell says that a mental health commission, among other promises made by the Liberals during the election campaign, will help heal communities scarred from sexual abuse, suicide, domestic violence and drug and alcohol addiction.
“We’re not going to reach our full potential as people until we deal with the issues that are holding us back. People are carrying this around, and it’s getting heavier and heavier.
“I think for every two steps we take forward, we’re going to take a step back,” she said during an interview last week.
“It’s getting so serious. Frankly, I’m getting a little tired of pretending that things aren’t as bad as they are.”
Social workers and justice committees struggle to address mental health problems in communities, but Karetak-Lindell said dedicated mental health workers are needed as well.
A mental health commission would “make mental health a long-term high priority for governments,” according to a Jan. 4 Liberal Party press release. Part of that involves bringing together experts across the country to suggest how to improve mental health.
But unlike many campaign promises, this one comes without a price tag attached: no cash commitment has been made towards helping the provinces and territories with mental health programs. The cost of the commission has not been announced, and there is no special mention of the North or aboriginal communities.
Conservatives have promised a deep-water port for Iqaluit if elected. Karetak-Lindell said that ignores consultation with the Government of Nunavut and reminds her of Ottawa-based decisions made in the past.
“One person who’s never been north before visits for two days and that’s the basis of their sovereignty policy,” she said, referring to the Conservative defense critic who visited Iqaluit this summer.
“They really have no clue.”
Her critics complain she doesn’t do enough for Nunavut. Her response?
“One person will never do enough. I think we need to put that in the right perspective. The Government of Nunavut, Inuit organizations, the Nunavut Economic Forum, unions: we need to all do things in partnership, because one person can never do enough,” she said.
“There will always be people who say I’m not doing enough, but I always go back to the fact I work in government,” she continued.
“I take the time to talk to every minister, including the Prime Minister, every chance I get, and that’s often behind closed doors. Maybe I don’t toot my horn every time, but I feel every CEO of a corporation, or executive for an organization — they don’t do a press conference right after every conversation.
“My way is courteous, respectful and professional, and that doesn’t involve screaming and yelling at them in every public opportunity I have.”
Karetak-Lindell has spent the post-holiday stretch of the campaign at home, recovering from a sore throat, headache and cough.
Last week she said she was uncertain whether she would make her scheduled visit to Rankin Inlet, although she planned to travel to Iqaluit for the all-candidates forum on Tuesday. She said she hopes to visit all three regions in the territory before residents cast their ballots.