News release

New Approach for Grief, Bereavement, Emotional Wellness Services

Mass Casualty Commission Response
Office of Addictions and Mental Health
mental health
Graphic showing a heart over an outline of Nova Scotia next to the words: Grief, bereavement and emotional wellness services

A not-for-profit organization with a three-decade history in Nova Scotia will co-ordinate a new approach to grief, bereavement and emotional wellness support.

The Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association (NSHPCA) will work with the government, communities and Nova Scotia Health to design a model of care for the province. NSHPCA will partner with local community-based organizations to design and deliver grief, bereavement and emotional wellness services within the community.

“The Mass Casualty Commission’s final report talked about the need for more grief and bereavement services in our communities,” said Brian Comer, Minister of Addictions and Mental Health. “This approach allows us to tap into the considerable expertise that exists in our communities. As the hub organization, NSHPCA will work directly with partners to ensure supports are offered closer to home and are responsive to the needs of the people, families and communities now and into the future.”

The work will be focused in the Colchester-East Hants area and Cumberland County this year and expanded across the province in 2025. It is supported by a two-year funding commitment of $2.3 million, part of the $18-million funding commitment from the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada announced in spring 2023.

Since May 30, 2023, an action team co-led by the Office of Addictions and Mental Health and Nova Scotia Health have:

  • added 23 new positions to Nova Scotia Health in front-line and system support roles, including outreach, wellness navigation, health promotion, public engagement and grief and bereavement
  • increased funding to eight community health boards in Cumberland, Colchester and Hants counties to support a range of local community wellness initiatives, from suicide prevention training and grief workshops to rural internet access programs to community events
  • launched a new community transportation pilot – a direct response to community engagement in spring 2023; since the service launched in August, it has received more than 1,000 requests for support
  • worked with Sipekne’katik Health Centre to provide transportation to and from wellness appointments in the community
  • held mobile health clinics to provide primary health care, mental wellness supports and navigation services in communities
    • mobile clinics are held three days a week in communities across Colchester, Cumberland and Hants counties
    • the mobile clinical team includes a newly created role of emotional wellness navigator
  • hosted a series of community conversations across the northern zone with local residents, community organizations, health system partners and others to understand the mental health and addictions needs in the community
  • launched a new mental health and addictions support program for volunteer firefighters and ground search and rescue volunteers
  • Nova Scotia Health and IWK Health provided trauma-informed care and suicide intervention skills training for community groups and service providers
  • hosted a compassionate grief education session for service providers, volunteers and community-based organizations
  • provided mental health crisis intervention training to police in the northern zone
  • hosted a compassionate grief education session
  • added mental health and addictions outreach and clinical services in Millbrook First Nation one day per week.


“There is no doubt that grief and loss can have a negative impact on our mental health and seeking support from friends, family or mental health professionals is crucial. Our government is pleased to support the Province of Nova Scotia and their partners in their efforts to enhance grief and bereavement services. We will continue working with our partners to address the Mass Casualty Commission’s final report recommendations and the public and mental health needs of the people of Nova Scotia.”
— Ya’ara Saks, federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“Since 1995, NSHPCA has provided resources and support for Nova Scotians through member organizations and volunteers across the province. Today more than ever, we believe that the time is right for a community hub organization like ours to bring together individuals, communities and the resources needed to support people in their experiences of grief and bereavement. Grief touches all of us throughout our lives. There is no endpoint to grief. No linear path. As a partner with the Government of Nova Scotia and local communities, we will work to help Nova Scotians build a new reality of purpose and meaning while they grieve.”
— Ann Cosgrove, President, Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association

“We appreciate the opportunity provided by the federal and provincial governments to partner with the NSHPCA in working toward meeting the grief and emotional wellness needs of Nova Scotians in a timely, responsive manner. NSHPCA’s connections and co-ordination will be invaluable in achieving this.”
— Bethany McCormick, Vice-President of Operations, Northern Zone, Nova Scotia Health

Quick Facts:

  • the provincial and federal governments are working together to address recommendation C.13 in the Mass Casualty Commission’s final report, which called for mental health, grief, and bereavement supports in Colchester, Cumberland and Hants counties

Additional Resources:

Support for communities impacted by the April 2020 mass casualty:

News release – Government Seeks Community Partner to Develop, Deliver Grief, Wellness Services:

Mass Casualty Commission final report: