Across Ontario, people are struggling with accessing basic mental-health services, worsened by the incredibly challenging and lonely circumstances caused by the pandemic. People of all ages and in all regions of the province, are suffering. And yet, Doug Ford cut annual provincial funding for mental health services by as much as $350 million.
The shortage of mental-health service professionals has intensified. Waitlists continue to grow longer. Universities, high schools and even elementary schools are struggling to respond to the growing mental-health crisis. Many people experiencing mental health and addictions issues have little or no option beyond finding refuge in the streets. Deaths and hospitalization due to opioid overdoses have soared. And in Northern, rural, remote and Indigenous communities, the situation is far worse.
Mental Health Is Health
The lack of adequate mental-health support, addictions treatment or rehabilitation services hurt our economy, destroy our communities and are inconsistent with our Liberal values. We deserve better.
As Leader, I will turn the page and prioritize easier access to essential mental-health services because mental health is health. I’ve been speaking to people about mental health and addictions from every corner of this province. These are some of the ideas I’ve heard from you:
Expand and enhance mental healthcare under OHIP
- Introduce universal access to mental healthcare under OHIP
- Increase the number of and expand access to mental health-service providers
- Create dedicated pathways to address the unique challenges of stress, mental-health issues and burnout through OHIP-funded and not-for-profit programs such as peer-to-peer support, counseling, group-therapy sessions, and wellness initiatives
- Improve the inpatient-care experience through increasing the number of psychiatric and addictions bed-based treatment options
Develop targeted, community-oriented approaches to support those most vulnerable to mental-health & addictions issues
- Implement a dedicated youth mental health strategy, recognizing suicide is the number one health-related cause of death for young people in Canada
- Adopt community-oriented approaches with support centres and Youth Wellness Hubs
- Support targeted programs responsive to marginalized and vulnerable groups, along with victims and survivors of trauma
- Deliver better crisis response through expanded Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Teams, diverting individuals from unnecessary involvement with the criminal-justice system and helping them access treatment, recovery and rehabilitation services instead
Respond swiftly to the opioid crisis using a whole-of-government approach
- Introduce a data-driven response to close the gaps in provincial data collection related to the opioid crisis
- Restore provincial leadership by restoring the Opioid Emergency Taskforce.
- Commit to compassionate and timely care through committing to provide everyone access to treatment, recovery and rehabilitation services complemented by evidence-based harm-reduction services
- Ensure easy points of access through launching a 24/7 Opioid Assistance & Referral Line
- Establish Community Support Teams who are experienced in harm reduction, and addiction treatment, recovery, and rehabilitation
- Expand Pharmacological treatment through expanded access to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and Opioid-Agonist Therapy with a particular focus on vulnerable populations
- Keep people alive by adequately funding the Ontario Naloxone Program (ONP) and distributing naloxone kits free of charge for Ontarians at risk of opioid overdose, as well as their friends and families
- Be tough on organized crime by acting decisively against organized crime groups involved in the illicit drug market
- Hold pharmaceutical companies accountable who produce these opioids and ensure they pay their fair share of healthcare costs incurred due to their deceptive marketing practices
- Support urban and rural Indigenous communities to integrate culturally-sensitive and traditional approaches to mental health and addictions treatment, along with providing adequate funding for MAT, suicide prevention, and intensive case management for Opioid Use Disorder
I continue to travel the province and want to hear from you. Do you have an idea? Email us.