Fall economic statement an opportunity to support mental health and addictions
Toronto – The following is a statement from Camille Quenneville, CEO of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division:
“CMHA Ontario is hopeful that the provincial government will use next week’s fall economic statement to address critical issues of staff burnout and retention, as well as significant budgetary restraints, that are right now negatively impacting the mental health and wellbeing of Ontarians.
Just as other parts of health care are struggling to maintain adequate staffing for vital programs and services, so is the mental health and addictions sector. Canadian data indicates that mental health workers (61 per cent) are second only to nurses (66 per cent) when it comes to reporting burnout.
The 27 CMHA branches across Ontario are losing dedicated staff to burnout or exhaustion while also facing difficulty attracting new workers at a time when there is a post-pandemic surge in demand for services. This means from counselling and case management to crisis and shelter workers, our staff shortage is hurting all levels of service provision throughout CMHAs.
Without bolstering our staffing, Ontarians will face longer wait lists or programs and services may run on reduced hours. We call on the government to work with us on tools to recruit and retain mental health and addictions staff.
At the heart of the crisis is a continuing and historical lack of adequate base funding for community mental health and addiction agencies. CMHA Ontario calls on the province to provide an immediate eight per cent infrastructure funding boost to the community mental health and addiction sector to help make up for years of underfunding.
Many CMHAs haven’t received significant budget increases in a decade and any increases that are provided are not indexed to inflation. Handcuffed by financial restraint, CMHAs and other community providers are challenged when it comes to balancing service provision, paying staff competitive wages and keeping the lights on. Without enhanced financial support, our sector will be hard pressed to address a looming mental health crisis. CMHA Ontario polling indicates that as pandemic recovery continues, more Ontarians are accessing mental health supports than ever before.
We trust the government understands and appreciates that the need for access to mental health and addictions services is close to home for all Ontarians. We are hopeful that next week’s fall economic statement will include funding and action to help us address the critical challenges we face.”
About Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario is a not-for-profit, charitable organization funded by the provincial government. We work to improve the lives of all Ontarians through leadership, collaboration and continual pursuit of excellence in community-based mental health and addictions services. Our vision is a society that embraces and invests in the mental health of all people. We are a trusted advisor to government, contributing to health systems development through policy formulation and recommendations that promote positive mental health.
For more information, contact:
Communications, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario