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BROWN: The truth about mental health
Sunday, 24 December 2017 - 9:45am
No one should feel abandoned when their child is in a mental health crisis.
Yet, sadly, I’ve met with families who’ve felt like they were.
I’ve met with families who have had the courage to seek help, and have been sent away.
I’ve heard of cases where brave souls have come forward, but without accessible and timely, have taken their own lives.
I know of cases where parents miss out on work to support their kids.
And where 18 year olds fall through the gaps when transitioning to adulthood.
I have seen statistics that in the last 30 years, hospitalizations for eating disorders have increased by 34% among young women under 15.
And the rate of anxiety disorders among high school students has become a pressing concern.
I’ve heard from professionals on the front lines advocating for more treatment, only to be ignored.
And I’ve heard horror stories about wait times.
Today, there are 6,000 children who have been waiting one year for treatment.
And in some parts of Ontario, the wait time for mental health services is up to 18 months. This is horrifying.
When you go to the hospital with a broken leg, you have immediate care. Why is it that if you go in for a mental health concern, you’re told to wait up to 18 months?
That’s not the Ontario I know, that’s not the healthcare system that I want to build.
We’re not going to accept that. We need more mental health treatment in the community.
Last month I announced in the People’s Guarantee that we will create a comprehensive mental health treatment system in Ontario with a commitment of $1.9 billion over 10 years.
We will match the federal commitment, which will bring the total to $3.8 billion over the decade.
This will be the largest commitment to mental health by any provincial government in Canadian history.
It’s time that mental health issues get the same attention and prioritization as physical health.
It’s time for Ontario to replace fragmented mental health services with a comprehensive approach to help some of our most vulnerable citizens.
The Ontario Liberals acknowledge the lack of mental healthcare, but they have failed to adequately invest in mental health in Ontario.
According to CIHI, Ontario spends $6,367 per capita, while our per capita mental health spend is only $446.
Between 2004 and 2011, the Ontario Liberals increased mental health spending by $16.45 per capita. But this was nothing compared to the UK, where the increase was $62.22, or Australia at $98.13, or New Zealand at $198.93.
During the Wynne years, the average annual increase was $2.70 per capita for community mental health.
In 1979, 11% of Ontario’s healthcare budget was spent on mental health — after decades of talk, today we spend only 6.7%.
I was deeply disappointed when, in the 2017, the Wynne government budgeted only $74 million over three years knowing that the province is due to receive close to $400 million for mental health from the federal government during that same time period.
The chance to show commitment to mental health was in the 2017 budget. The Wynne government failed to do so.
Today, every Ontarian living with mental illness should have timely access to care. Yet they don’t.
No one should be battling the system for basic mental health services only to find it fragmented, inaccessible and underfunded.
We’re not going to settle for this.
The Ontario PC Party will fix this.
— Brown is the Ontario PC Leader.