October 18, 2016
The Honourable Jane Philpott
House of Commons
Canada, K1A 0A6
Re: Health Accord must include mental health and addiction
Dear Minister Philpott,
Ten years ago a ground-breaking Senate report urged Canadians to take mental health out of the shadows. The government established the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) in 2007. In 2012, Canadians were presented with a national mental health strategy.
There have been significant campaigns aimed at reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and addictions. We have been told that it is appropriate to ask for the help we need. Schools, workplaces and communities have become mental health-literate.
Yet Canada has a poor record of responding to the needs of people with mental illness and addictions
Compared to other high-income countries we spend far less of our health care budgets addressing these problems. Countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and France spend over 10% of their health care budgets providing mental health and addictions services and treatments. Canada spends about 7%.
It is time for our actions to catch up to our words. The renewed Canada Health Accord is the place to start.
We believe Canada can commit to increasing the mental health and addiction proportion of health care spending by a minimum of 2%, from 7.2% to 9%.
This investment, as recommended by the MHCC, will increase access to the evidence-based treatments and services that Canadians need to turn their lives around. Two key needs are for structured psychotherapies and supportive housing. We also need comprehensive, holistic treatments for opioid addictions, as well as robust addiction prevention programs.
We have a national mental health strategy, we know what works and we know what needs to be done.
We would be happy to meet with you or to host you for a tour of one of our member programs to further discuss how we can work together towards an accessible and comprehensive system of addictions and mental health care.
Gail Czukar, CEO
Addictions and Mental Health Ontario
The Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance of Canada
The Honourable Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health of Ontario
Louise Bradley, President & CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada
The Honourable Michael Wilson, Chair of the Board of Directors, Mental Health Commission of Canada