Ford’s budget dangerously ignores mental health and addictions

TORONTO — Bhutila Karpoche, Ontario NDP critic for Mental Health and Addictions, said Doug Ford’s first budget ignores the desperate need to improve supports for those struggling with mental health challenges and addictions.

The Conservatives’ first budget appears to allocate no provincial funding for mental health and addictions in 2019-20, and instead points to $174 million in federal funding. This federal funding would be stretched across community mental health and addictions, mental health and justice services, supportive housing, and acute mental health inpatient beds.

“Mental health challenges are becoming more pervasive, not less. Failing to put in place a plan for more care with less waiting is wrong — for individuals who need care, for families being ripped apart by mental health crises, and for communities,” said Karpoche. “If we are asking people to break the stigma around mental health and additions, we owe it to them to make sure the supports they need are there when they find the courage to ask for help.

“Forcing people to wait until it’s a crisis means they’ll have no options left but the emergency room. And since the woefully inadequate funding allocated to mental health and addictions in this budget piles onto its cruel cuts to social services, those struggling are just having challenge upon challenge heaped onto them. Apparently, Doug Ford just doesn’t think it’s his job to help.”

Ford’s budget doesn’t even address the opioids crisis that is gripping the province. The budget comes on the heels of the Ford Conservatives’ callous decision to de-fund six overdose prevention sites.

“Ontarians deserve better than to have their government turn its back on them in times of crisis,” said Karpoche. “We should be investing in expanding mental health and addictions services to meet the growing need, not stretching services thin, taking help away, and abandoning those in need of treatment, care and supports.”

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