Everything Is Not OK: Sector leaders call for mental health and addiction wait times strategy to be in upcoming Ontario Budget
Province’s mental health leaders are calling on government to ensure that a mental health and addiction plan is part of the government’s COVID-19 recovery plan
TORONTO, March 22, 2021 – Seven of Ontario’s leading organizations in the mental health and addiction sector say increased funding and a long-term wait time reduction strategy to address the urgent and growing need for mental health and addiction services must be a priority in the March 24 provincial budget.
Ontarians have been waiting months or even years for the mental health and addiction services they need, and the situation has only worsened since the beginning of the pandemic. Before the pandemic, 28,000 children and youth were on wait lists for mental health care. The average wait time for people waiting for supportive housing is 2.9 years. Last year, more than 2,100 people in Ontario died from an opioid overdose, a 60 per cent increase in deaths since 2019. A new poll shows that a third of Ontarians are finding it difficult to access the services they need. Nearly eight in 10 Ontarians believe the province will face a serious post-pandemic mental health crisis.
Ontario’s mental health and addiction leaders are calling for the budget to include a 10-year plan to strategically invest the committed $3.8 billion guided by experts to avoid fragmented investments in the sector.
To draw attention to the issue, seven organizations representing the full spectrum of mental health and addiction care launched the Everything Is Not OK campaign last week. This group speaks from experience as it serves more than one million Ontarians from community care to hospital care.
More than 6,000 people have already signed an online petition calling on long-term, targeted and sustainable investments in Ontario’s mental health and addiction system to deliver:
- Consistent care. Because regardless of whether you’re in northern Ontario, rural Ontario or downtown Toronto, all Ontarians should get the same high-quality care.
- Faster care. Because people are waiting too long to get the support and treatment they are looking for.
- Easier access to care. Because it’s too complicated and Ontarians don’t know where to turn to for mental health or addiction services.
- Transparent care. Because Ontarians don’t know how long they are going to wait and what they can expect from their care.
The campaign also includes specific actions that the seven organizations themselves are ready to do as partners in improving care for the people who need it most. All partners stand ready to work together with the government on this multi-year plan and implementation.
To find out why Everything Is Not OK, visit www.everythingisnotok.ca.
“The number of people dying every day in Ontario as a result of opioid-related overdoses is absolutely devastating. We know what we need: a fully funded wait times strategy that will get all Ontarians access to high quality, consistent addiction and mental health care no matter what stage they are at in their substance use, and no matter where they live in the province.” – Adrienne Spafford, CEO, Addictions and Mental Health Ontario
“COVID-19 has had and will continue to have life-long impacts on many Ontarians. Today, thousands are struggling with severe grief and loss as a result of the pandemic. Many of these individuals are essential workers and healthcare workers who worked throughout the pandemic to keep us all safe and healthy. We need to ensure that support is there for them when they need it.” – Camille Quenneville, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario
“The upcoming budget is an opportunity for the Ontario government to fulfill a commitment to transforming the mental health system. We are ready to create a comprehensive and connected system of care for Ontario citizens. Now is the time for action.” – Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
“As the province enters the third wave of the pandemic, and with no vaccine available for children yet, we must work together to protect Ontario’s kids from even further deterioration of their mental health and wellbeing. The best possible outcome for families now, and in the future, is to prioritize and invest in providing faster mental health and addiction services to Ontario’s children and youth – particularly for those with the most serious illness who face the longest wait times.” – Kimberly Moran, CEO, Children’s Mental Health Ontario
“It is critical that the 2021 Ontario budget includes targeted investments that will result in the provision of high-quality care and reduce wait times. We are ready to work with government leaders and system partners to ensure Ontarians who are struggling are able to access the care they need.” – Karim Mamdani, President and CEO, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences
“There was a mental health and addictions crisis before COVID-19, but the pandemic has made it worse. As a province, we will not be able to recover from COVID-19 without first supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Ontarians. Without a plan to address this crisis, there is no recovery.” – Joanne Bezzubetz, CEO and President, The Royal
“We are all deeply concerned about the effects of the pandemic and know that children, family members, our seniors and friends are struggling. At the same time, we have seen the outcome of working together to get through major challenges demonstrating the importance of taking action now, together, to ensure all ages have access to the mental health and addiction services needed today and for the future.” – Carol Lambie, President and CEO, Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care
ABOUT EVERYTHING IS NOT OK
Everything Is Not OK is a campaign launched by Ontario’s leading mental health and addiction organizations that collectively support more than one million children, youth and adults with their mental health or substance use challenges every year. The group includes: Addictions and Mental Health Ontario (AMHO), Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO), Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores), Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, The Royal, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Canadian Mental Health Association – Ontario (CMHA).
For more information, visit www.everythingisnotok.ca
Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO), 2020 Report on Wait Lists and Wait Times For Child and Youth Mental Health Care.
Connex Ontario Wait Times, As of February 3, 2021. Service Type = Support Within Housing Mental Health. As provided by CMHA Ontario
Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario.
For further information: Jasmine Hermans at firstname.lastname@example.org.