04/11/2014 06:49 EDT | Updated 06/11/2014 05:59 EDT

Alberta government spending more on mental health programs for children

EDMONTON - The Alberta government is providing more money for mental health programs for kids.

The government says it includes after school supports, wellness education, as well as new residential mental health services for young people in the Calgary and Edmonton regions.

Health Minister Fred Horne made the announcement Friday at a southwest Edmonton high school, saying the move would get access to families more quickly.

"We have good capacity when it comes to adult services, but where we've been lacking is in children and youth. That waiting time from when someone is identified as needing treatment and when they actually receive the treatment is critically important," Horne said.

"What we're trying to capitalize on both within the community and the residential treatment system is faster response to people. When the child or youth in the family indicates that they are receptive to receiving help, our view is that the system should come to them."

Interim Premier Dave Hancock says the money will benefit more than 315,000 youth and children who participate in mental health programs.

A total of $48 million is being spent to support the implementation of Alberta’s addiction and mental health strategy, a $28 million increase over last year.

The $48 million is in addition to the $600 million Alberta Health Services budgets to deliver mental health and addiction programs and services.

NDP Education critic Deron (DARE-UN) Bilous says the Tories are being hypocritical.

"When we look at mental health and bullying being one of the issues, on Monday, motion 503 dealing with gay-straight alliances and the opportunity for students to be able to form them in their schools, that was voted down by the same government.

"So on the one hand talking about funding mental health yet legislating against that, I think, is a bit of a contradiction."