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According to Meili, teachers have informed the NDP about long waits for psychologists in schools, though it varies from one division to another.

“They’re basically saying that help isn’t there,” Meili said. “If they’ve got a kid in a crisis, and they want support through the school, the wait is so long that it’s not really relevant to that child anymore.”

In his remarks to reporters, Meili framed his promised investment in two ways. It’s part of beefing up the province’s back-to-school plan while also providing long-term supports as part of efforts to prevent suicide.

“This important investment will immediately help students deal with the new realities and challenges that they’re facing,” he said. “It will also respond to the growing troubles in mental health in our classrooms and play an important role in our long-term mental wellness strategy, including our suicide prevention strategy.”

The Saskatchewan Party government increased education funding in the 2020-21 budget by $79.4 million to $3.36 billion. That includes a $42-million boost to school division operating budgets. Education Minister Gord Wyant also announced $51 million in COVID-19 support funding for divisions on the first day of school, though it was not devoted to mental health.

But Meili pointed out that, on a per-student basis, funding has fallen by more than $300 since 2015-16. He warned that, if re-elected, the Saskatchewan Party risks cutting funding as part of its back-to-balance “austerity” plan.

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