QUEEN’S PARK – Leader of the Official Opposition, Marit Stiles (Davenport) took the opportunity of Monday’s Opposition Day Motion slot to call on the government to fund a $24 million emergency investment in community mental health care to meet urgent, growing demand for mental health services, especially among young people and BIPOC Ontarians.
Ford’s Conservatives voted ‘no’ against the motion.
Stiles’ motion was for the government to fund the 8% increase requested by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) during the province’s pre-budget consultations.
“This government needs to wake up to the reality all around them. People’s mental health is suffering – rising costs of living, student debt, stagnant wages, unaffordable housing is all adding to more anxiety, depression and a general sense of despair for the future,” said Stiles. "This reality is even worse in Northern Ontario, where people are more likely to experience poor mental health and have fewer options for support.”
The Ford Conservatives’ wage-suppression legislation Bill 124 has had a particularly devastating effect on the mental health care sector – over the last two years, salary-based issues have resulted in 66 per cent of resignations at CMHA Ontario branches, resulting in nearly 250 community mental health and addictions jobs left unfilled.
“When people are suffering from depression, addictions and despondency, not knowing when you will get help is particularly dangerous,” Stiles said.
A Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) 2022 survey found that more than half, 59 per cent, of young Ontarians reported feeling depressed about the future, with one in five saying they had seriously contemplated suicide in the past year.
At the same time, the number of Ontarians seeking mental health supports has shot up – since the pandemic, requests for mental health support have increased over 50 per cent for adults and over 100 per cent for children.
“When even one person in a family suffers from poor mental health, the entire family suffers, and the entire community eventually suffers. This government needs to prioritize Ontarians’ mental health. People’s contentment, happiness is central if we want this province to progress,” said Stiles.
“Doug Ford is sitting on $6.4 billion in contingency funds. Our call for an investment of just 0.375% of that to help improve Ontarians’ access to mental health care should have been a no-brainer if his government truly prioritized people’s well-being.”