Funds that used to go through Alberta Health Services are now going to school boards, which created the cut.
Two youth therapist positions will been cut in Cold Lake once a government-run program ends on September 1st, the effects of which will spill over into other youth-oriented services.
The two positions worked out of the mental health office at Cold Lake Hospital, and were specialized for addressing mental health concerns in the city’s youth, working either in the office itself or in schools depending on each patient’s preference.
“We recognize this is a change for everyone, including students, families, school districts, partners and AHS, and that the in-school supports currently provided will be different next year,” said AHS senior communications advisor Diana Rinne in an email.
“While the full impact of these changes will not be known until school boards finalize their decisions on how they will spend the Regional Collaborative Service Delivery funding now allocated to them, these changes will impact two mental health therapist positions in Cold Lake.”
The RCSD was a partnership between Alberta Education and Alberta Health Services that previously provided $75 million to AHS to address areas of concern such as physical therapy, mental health therapy, and consultations for students who are blind, deaf, or hard of hearing.
Because the positions were directly funded through the government, both doctors are being let go from their jobs.
The money will stay in Alberta Ed according to Education Minister press secretary Colin Aitchison, which is now being shifted to individual school districts.
Districts will have flexibility in how the funds are used, however, this has raised concerns that services previously mandated by the RCSD could be left to the wayside.
Local schools respond
Northern Lights School District communications officer Nicole Garner said NLPS would be receiving $700,000 as a result of the new models, an increase from last year’s budget, but that money would not cover the cost of all the programs previously funded by the RCSD.
LCSD communication Amanda Wildman said the division has hired professionals to cover positions formerly funded by RCSD such as speech-language pathologists, speech-language pathologist assistants and occupational therapy personnel.
Alberta Education has taken the total amount of money for education — $8.2 billion — and has committed to keep the grand total unchanged for the next three years, Wildman relayed.
The funding model, meanwhile, has been revamped to create 15 new major grant areas, and boards are to determine how they will be using these grants to serve students.