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PCs Dragging Feet as Treatment Waitlists for Eating Disorders Double to 2 Years

Treaty 1 Territory, Métis Homeland, Winnipeg, MB - Manitoba Liberals say the PCs must respond to advocates and provide emergency funding for the Women's Health Clinic and Provincial Eating Disorder Prevention and Recovery Program (PEDPRP) in order to shorten long waitlists for eating disorder treatments that have doubled from six to twelve months to two years under the PCs.

In February 2021, Elaine Stevenson, Co-Founder of the Alyssa Stevenson Memorial Trust, wrote former Health Minister Heather Stefanson and Mental Health Minister Audrey Gordon, asking for emergency funding to deal with the waitlist, which has been a problem under successive governments.

Stevenson had to renew her request with a second letter in September because no action was taken.

"I have been an advocate for eating disorder services in Manitoba and across Canada for 30 years and I have never seen the waiting list this long and unattainable for large numbers of Manitobans with eating disorders," said Stevenson. "Nothing has been done to alleviate the critical and dangerous situation for those waiting for Eating Disorder Treatment."

"This is yet another deadly backlog that has gotten worse under the PCs and they are dragging their feet again," said Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface. "The pandemic was a time to put more into mental health, especially eating disorders, because early detection and treatment saves lives."

The PCs have had access to tens of millions of dollars in targeted Federal funding for mental health care for nearly five years, said Lamont, but dragged their feet on signing the agreement, and are now "planning to plan" while desperate families and patients struggle.

Dr. Jon Gerrard, Manitoba Liberals Health Critic and MLA for River Heights, has raised concerns about the long wait times for eating disorders twice in the Legislature.

"The PCs have known about this wait time for over 6 months, and yet there still has been no action," said Jon Gerrard, Health Critic for the Manitoba Liberal Party. "It is absolutely critical they act now."

The $400-million dollar Federal-Provincial Agreement between Manitoba and Canada was announced more than five years ago - August 21, 2017, but wasn't signed until two-and-a-half years later, in April 2019.

"The PCs have had five years to address this crisis, and waitlists are twice as bad as when they started," said Lamont. "Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness after opioids, and we've seen that tragedy playing out. Mental health care is health care, and Manitobans need treatment now, not two years from now."



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