CMHA calls on the federal government to make mental health part of Canada’s universal health care system in 2023 budget
Nov 1, 2022
When it comes to mental health in Canada, it would simply be untrue to call our health system universal. Mental health and substance use problems are rampant in Canada, but millions of people aren’t getting the help they need. That’s because too often, services do not exist, or the wait times are too long. When services do exist, too often they are badly underfunded or Canadians must pay out of pocket to receive them. This means only some people will get care. The rising stress of Emergency Department closures, staff burnout and shortages, long wait times, and delayed access to care, only widen the longstanding gaps in mental health care. As mental health concerns grow ever more pervasive, existing services and supports cannot meet the need.
Making meaningful progress on mental health requires governments to work together. That means the federal government must work hand in hand with the provinces and territories to make sure that mental health services are delivered to everyone who needs them, and that they’re covered by public health insurance. Making progress also means addressing the need for housing and income supports, because they are fundamental to good mental health.
CMHA believes federal leadership and dedicated, permanent investments can help collectively build the mental health system Canadians need with a high return on investment.
For the 2023 federal budget, CMHA is recommending:
That the government create a permanent Canada Mental Health and Substance Use Health Transfer equivalent to 12% of provincial/territorial healthcare spending ($5.3 billion annually), with 50% earmarked for community services.
That the government amend the National Housing Strategy to establish a new ten-year investment for the dedicated acquisition, conversion, and construction of 100,000 supportive housing units and a new multi-year funding stream for community housing providers to cover the operating costs and essential support services for the tenants.
That the government implement a system of automatic tax filing and benefits enrolment for Canadians.