SASKATOON -- Prince Albert has no working child psychiatrists, resulting in the closure of the Prince Albert Child and Youth Mental Health Inpatient Unit, the NDP said in a news release.

“The people of Prince Albert and the north have been let down by a government that hasn’t put the proper supports in place,” mental health and addictions critic Danielle Chartier said in a news release.

“The services provided by child psychiatrists are desperately needed, but the government’s response has been just more austerity, which means more cuts and claw backs for the services families rely on.”

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says it stopped admitting new patients to the Child and Youth Mental Health Inpatient Unit in Prince Albert following the retirement of a child psychiatrist in June.

“Patients continue to seek care at the Victoria Hospital’s Emergency Department,” Brett Enns, executive director primary care, Integrated Northern Health, said in a statement to CTV News.

“If inpatient admission is required, arrangements are made for admission in Saskatoon. The child and youth mental health teams in Prince Albert and Saskatoon have developed processes to manage patient flow between the two centres.

Child psychiatrists in Saskatoon are providing support for child and youth outpatient clinics on a weekly basis - an interim solution the SHA recruits for four child psychiatrists positions in Prince Albert, Enns said.

The NDP says the shortage of child psychiatrists has been a long-standing issue, saying that concerns about the supply of child psychiatrists date to 2016. In 2017, the wait time to see a child psychiatrist was two years in Saskatoon, according to the party.

The NDP cited CIHI data showing Saskatchewan’s mental health hospitalization rate for children and youth is the second highest of all the provinces.

The NDP says the data also show that Saskatchewan is tied for last place in numbers of psychiatrists treating children and youth and that the number of children and youth hospitalized for mental health in Saskatchewan has doubled in the last decade, the highest rate of growth in the country.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said the SHA has been recruiting these positions with recently increased recruitment incentives.

“Saskatchewan’s overall supply of psychiatrists has been steadily increasing. Since 2007 the number of psychiatrists has increased by 34 per cent.”