The County of Paintearth council discussed the lack of mental health workers available to better serve the community at their Tues. June 7 meeting.
According to a report by Assistant Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Brenda Hepp, there is a limited number of workers who work on varying schedules throughout the week.
Castor Hospital has only three mental health workers in three disciplines that are available Monday to Thursday. Meanwhile, Gus Wetter school offers online mental support while Theresetta school has a councillor that only works on Mondays.
In Coronation, three mental health workers are only available three days a week in the Coronation Hospital, while the Coronation school only offers two mental health workers that are available from Monday to Thursday.
The shortage of available staff to support residents raises concerns for the council as mental health and wellness has become an important topic since the start of the pandemic.
Alberta Works closed
The Stettler Alberta Works offices continue to remain closed to the public making it difficult for residents who rely on in-person services.
The council discussed the impact that the continued closure has on the community and the Family Community Support Services (FCSS) office.
Although Alberta Works has ceased in-person services, they continue to support through alternative outlets via online, phone and fax. But for those who do not use those services, they must look elsewhere for proper assistance.
This has led to many people coming to the FCSS offices in Castor and Coronation for help rather than using the alternative methods of support provided by Alberta Works.
Many rely on the in-person services of these organizations in order to receive proper direction towards services such as income support, and the FCSS has picked up some of the slack to help support people in the area.
In-person services will be suspended at the Alberta Works office in Stettler until further notice.
Lack of rural transportation
Council discussed the need for rural transport in the county and surrounding area.
It has become difficult for residents to travel around the area and to the cities due to the lack of services that are available.
Many citizens rely on these services to attend appointments and treatment in cities, but cannot afford to pay the cost of travelling to receive those services.
Although there are handi-buses in the county, they cannot keep up with the needs of the residents and are often overwhelmed
Formerly, Greyhound buses provided this service.
Funding for transportation increased from $3,500 to $6,000 for the van societies in Coronation and Castor and costs will continue to rise as the price of fuel and insurance continue to grow.