NS government cuts funding for psychology internships

The Nova Scotia government’s decision to cut funding for interns has people who rely on psychologists wondering if the province will be able to retain psychology students.

Shaleen Jones is one of them. The co-ordinator for Eating Disorder Nova Scotia says the cut leaves her concerned about future access to psychologists.   

“That internship program is really important,” she says. “Important for us in Nova Scotia to keep trained health care professionals in our province.”

Jones says the eating disorders program already lost a psychologist at the IWK Health Centre four months ago.

She says the sooner they’re able to get support for people ready for treatment, the better the outcomes.

“What that means is that they're going to get better faster,” she says. “It’s going to need less resources to treat them. They're not going to treat them. They're not going to have to be hospitalized as often.”

The provincial government says it continues to face serious financial challenges, resulting in tough budget choices. 

The Nova Scotia Health Department says, while it was not able to fund the program further, it was able to continue a stipend for those under contract for the fiscal year,

Six of the eight interns in the program are with the Nova Scotia Health Authority, which will pick up the $165,000 for those interns to finish.

The other two are with the IWK, which will pay around $55,000.

“But isn't that a backward approach, you cut first and you discuss how you're going to deal with it second?” asks Jones.

Opposition parties say the government is going about it the wrong way. The NDP called for a public inquiry into the province’s mental health system

“I just don't think this is where we should be cutting,” says Interim NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald. “There's big issues in mental health services in the province.”

Both the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the IWK say they’ll be meeting, along with the health department, to see what things might look like in the future.

Jones is hoping the discussion may lead to a larger strategy to assist people living with eating disorders.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jacqueline Foster.

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