HealthCareCAN recently convened a discussion with member institutions keen to ensure that recent interest and support pledged by the federal government to improve mental health and addictions care in Canada translates to actions and outcomes on the frontlines.
Participants in the discussion, which included leaders from The Royal, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Services, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Baycrest, and Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, highlighted the need for urgent support to address the exponential growth in demand for mental health and addictions care.
While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was identified as a significant cause of the surge in demand for services, it was noted that resource challenges in the sector pre-dated the pandemic.
Meeting participants agreed that recent steps on the part of the federal government, including the naming of Carolyn Bennett as Minister of Mental Health and Addictions who met with HealthCareCAN in January to discuss frontline issues, were positive signs that more support is coming to enhance mental health and addictions care across the country.
Minister Bennett’s Mandate Letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau describes how that is likely to happen. The letter states the Minister is to work with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to “establish a permanent, ongoing Canada Mental Health Transfer to help expand the delivery of high-quality, accessible and free mental health services, including for prevention and treatment.”
While this new transfer could be part of next week’s federal budget, a critical element for any new federal support is ensuring that it makes it way to the frontlines of care to improve access to mental health and addictions services for all Canadians.
Meeting participants also flagged the need for the federal government to collaborate more closely with those providing frontline care and services to develop a strong mental health and addictions care system, rather than the existing siloed approach. It was noted that the social determinants of health, such as housing, are also key factors that must be included in a holistic approach to improving mental health and addictions services in Canada.
HealthCareCAN will continue to engage the government to put forward specific actions as prioritized by our members in the area of mental health and addictions care. To support that work, a follow-up meeting of interested member organizations will be scheduled.
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HealthCareCAN recently convened a discussion with member institutions keen to ensure that recent interest and support pledged by the federal government to improve mental health and addictions care in Canada translates to actions and outcomes on the frontlines. Participants in the discussion, which included leaders from The Royal, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Services,