“For the first time in Canadian history, every province has a strategy or plan focused on mental health and/or addictions. Leaders across Canada should be commended for the important strides made in mental health legislation, policies and programs. The next step requires an increase in the share of health and social services dollars spent on mental health so all Canadians can live healthier and more productive lives,” says Peter Coleridge, National CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Bringing forward recommendations first made in a 2007 Senate report, which were echoed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada in its 2012 mental health strategy, CMHA would like to see a dedicated Mental Health Transition and Innovation Fund set up that could help provinces increase mental health spending to 9% of their health care budget and social care spending by 2% above current levels.
The fund would be used to better plan for and integrate mental health care in primary health care settings; establish acceptable wait times for community mental health services; or set standards for accessing evidence-informed services and supports that we know help people maintain and improve their mental health and recover from mental illness or addictions.
Canada could achieve the 9% target by investing $4.29 billion over 10 years. That amounts to a $429-million increase each year for 10 years, which is the equivalent of $12 per Canadian each year.
This works out to about the cost of four lattes or six Tim Hortons coffees per year.
This would allow provinces and territories to make much-needed investments in their mental health and addiction systems, improve access, and foster innovation.
All across the country, there are examples of effective programs that do work – that promote mental health, prevent mental illness, and provide mental health and addiction services. Yet, in spite of this, we still have long wait times for people to get the care they urgently need.
“The federal government has already invested in a Mental Health Strategy for Canada and provinces and territories have plans to address mental health and addiction care challenges; but we just can’t seem to get enough investment in mental health and addiction care to make a lasting difference for the people who need help,” says Steve Lurie, Executive Director, CMHA Toronto. “There are over 10000 people on the wait list for supportive housing in Toronto, for example, and wait times can be up to five years. More funding would allow us to reduce homelessness in a major way.”
A Mental Health Transition and Innovation Fund will ensure that all Canadians will enjoy a guaranteed right to a range of evidence-based mental health services that are universal, comprehensive, accessible, portable and publicly administered, just like other medically-necessary services.
Visit the CMHA website for resources and more information on the #GETLOUD for increased mental health funding campaign.
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Senior Communications and Media Advisor, CMHA National