Child and youth advocate applauds relocation of youth mental health facility

The province’s child and youth advocate says he welcomes the Higgs government’s decision to move New Brunswick’s youth mental health centre out of Campbellton.

“Am I pleased? Absolutely,” said Norm Bossé. 

“I think that could bring about some great changes in the whole system of how we treat our youth.”

Bossé made his comments after Heath Minister Ted Flemming announced that the facility would now be located in Moncton.

Construction on the yet-to-be-completed youth mental health centre was halted earlier this year after ombud Charles Murray recommended cancellation.

Work on the centre was about 90 per cent complete at the time..

Flemming said the facility would now be used for rehab programs.

Not following ‘recommendations’

Bossé said he was surprised when the previous government announced the facility would be built in the northern New Brunswick city.

“I was surprised … they certainly were not following the recommendations in the Staying Connected report,” he said.

The youth mental health centre would have been located adjacent to an existing adult psychiatric hospital.

That hospital came under fire earlier this year when Murray released a report detailing a number of abuses at the facility.

Bossé acknowledges the province always maintained that staff in the youth centre would be separate from the adult centre staff, but added this made the location less essential, as staffing couldn’t be shared.

“They can’t cross over,” said Bossé.

“So what difference does it make if you move it?”

Accessibility factor

Bossé said accessibility for the patients at the hospital would have been a major issue had construction gone ahead.

“Most of them don’t come from the area, they come from the larger cities,” said Bossé.

“It’s not accessible to everybody in that regard.”

Bossé also said attracting specialized staff to the hospital was always going to be difficult considering the remote nature of Campbellton and its lack of a teaching hospital.

Bossé estimated the new facility should be up and running within five years.