Manitoba stress lines busy despite funding gap

WINNIPEG – Volunteers at Manitoba’s Farm and Rural Stress Line are still answering the phones.

The service was scheduled to shut down Oct. 31 after running out of money, but provincial health minister Jim McCrae asked co-ordinators to keep it going until he makes a decision on whether his department can help fund the line.

Co-ordinators and an advisory group that oversees the service have been asking the provincial government to pay $80,000 per year, which would cover a little more than half the line’s budget. This year, the government gave $40,000, and now the line needs another $40,000 to keep it going until the end of March.

Christine Kreklewetz and Brenda Alderson, the line’s co-ordinators, said they’re “fairly optimistic” the government will come through with some money.

“(McCrae) did give us the impression when we met with him two weeks ago that … we would only be on hold for a short time,” Alderson said.

Kreklewetz said recent media coverage about the line running out of money has made more rural people aware of the service, and calls to the line have been increasing.

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