The federal and Saskatchewan governments have signed a bilateral health agreement worth approximately $350 million over ten years.

The agreement focuses on mental health treatment and supports, targeted at youth, children and families and establishing more community based health centers, shifting the care away from hospitals.

Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the agreement allows for residents of northern and remote communities to access mental health and addictions services online.

“One of the innovative ideas that’s in here, is developing service delivery for mental health and addictions services through the internet. It overcomes remoteness, if you can in fact deliver services through the internet,” Goodale said.

The provincial government has already announced this investment of $11.4 million in this year’s budget.

Health Minister Jim Reiter says the money will be used to decrease the wait times for mental health services.

“I would say on the mental health side, furthering the training for mental health care professionals isn’t probably as visible, but what they [the public] will see is more staff hired. We need to do a better job of shortening the wait list for mental health,” said Reiter.

(PHOTO: Sask. Health Min. Jim Reiter (left) and Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale (right) sign health agreement. Dan Jones)