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Province, private foundations announce millions for 6 youth health 'hubs'

Bruce Fitch, New Brunswick's health minister, and Sherry Wilson, the province's minister responsible for addictions and mental health services, announced the funding Friday in Moncton. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)
Bruce Fitch, New Brunswick's health minister, and Sherry Wilson, the province's minister responsible for addictions and mental health services, announced the funding Friday in Moncton. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)

The New Brunswick government will spend $4 million over three years on "hubs" for youth health care around the province.

The provincial funding, together with another $2 million from the Medavie Foundation and the Bell-Graham Boeckh Foundation Partnership, was announced Friday morning in Moncton.

The Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick will administer the program and be responsible for staff.

Christa Baldwin, the group's executive director, said the move comes because of youth and caregivers who have pushed for better care after losing loved ones when services weren't available.

"Today is the beginning of better days for our youth and mental health in New Brunswick," Baldwin said.

Christa Baldwin, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick, says the announcement is the start of better days for youth in the province.
Christa Baldwin, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick, says the announcement is the start of better days for youth in the province.

Christa Baldwin, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick, says the announcement is the start of better days for youth in the province. (Shane Magee/CBC)

The hubs will offer outpatient services for people aged 12 to 24 in six locations: Fredericton, Moncton, Saint John, Elsipogtog First Nation, Neqotkuk First Nation and on the Acadian Peninsula.

The services are expected to include mental, physical and sexual health care, peer support, social services, substance abuse services and system navigation.

Bruce Fitch, New Brunswick's health minister, announced the funding with Sherry Wilson, the province's minister responsible for addictions and mental health services.

Details of the announcement were unclear for several hours Friday, including whether some of the locations are already open.

Bernard Lord, CEO of Medavie, said in a speech during the announcement that he is looking forward to the first three sites "being open in the next few months."

Bernard Lord, CEO of Medavie, at a funding announcement on Jan. 19, 2024, in Moncton.
Bernard Lord, CEO of Medavie, at a funding announcement on Jan. 19, 2024, in Moncton.

Bernard Lord, CEO of Medavie, said its foundation would contribute $1 million over three years to the hubs. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Several minutes later, Fitch told reporters that some of the six sites have "been up and running and this is the continuation on the funds." He then deferred to Wilson for further details.

Wilson told reporters there will be three sites running by the end of this year and another three by the end of 2025.

When asked which three are already open, Wilson listed four cities: Miramichi, Moncton, Saint John, and Fredericton.

"They're coming together now, there's still work to do but we're bringing them together with our community partners," Wilson said.

In a statement several hours later, a spokesperson for the the province said none of the locations are open yet. The first three will open by summer.

The statement from Sean Hatchard said the hubs "will build off and eventually replace" a program called the Access Open Minds.

A federal government website describes Access Open Minds as a research project examining best practices for offering mental health care to young people.

"Work will be performed with the existing Access Open Minds locations to expand into the youth wellness hub model, and also establish hubs in Fredericton, Moncton and Neqotkuk First Nation," Hatchard said in the statement.

Foundation wants to see results: Lord

The ministers were asked what would happen when the funding announced Friday ends in three years, but there was no clear answer.

Fitch fielded the question, saying "there's a number of different pots of funding and I know we've helped a place like Atlantic Wellness who are up and running, have fully staffed and that was one of the areas that people can go and get services right now."

Lord was also asked about whether the foundation would continue funding the hubs after three years.

"We'll see," Lord said, adding they would want to see results, such as improved access to services, before making a decision on further funding.