NDP stands with advocate for Ministry of Mental Health call

TORONTO — MPP Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale—High Park), the NDP’s critic for Mental Health and Addictions, said the Ontario NDP stands with Noah Irvine and other mental health advocates, who are calling for a dedicated provincial Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, as well as a federal Mental Health and Addictions Secretariat.

“Noah is right. The mental health system in Ontario is fragmented and dysfunctional,” said Karpoche. “And the failures of the system are tearing families apart and hurting people who need help. Folks fall through the cracks. They wait for months for the treatment and services they urgently need. They often have to reach a crisis point before they get help at all. People deserve so much better.”

Irvine, a mental health advocate, has written to legislators and governments throughout the country to push for support for the standalone ministry in Ontario, and a federal secretariat. On Tuesday, he released a letter sent to Minister Christine Elliott, not only urging her and the Ford government to get on board with mental health system improvements, but also expressing frustration over months of stonewalling in his efforts to get answers about Ontario’s mental health system. 

“I still don’t know the total amount the government spends on mental health and addictions. Can you provide the number?” Irvine wrote.

Andrea Horwath committed in the NDP’s 2018 election platform to build a dedicated Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions in Ontario.

While the Liberals badly underfunded mental health care, leading to 18-month long waitlists for services for youth in some areas, Doug Ford and the Conservatives are already making things worse for people with a $330 million cut to mental health care and services.

“Right now, Ontario is giving more than 10 ministries money in a patchwork system — a system that makes mental health care a side-project for many of those ministries. It’s not working. And if we want different results, we need to do something different.

“A dedicated Ministry for Mental Health and Addictions would mean finally making mental health a priority, and a focus. It’s an opportunity to do a better job getting people the care they need, as soon as they need it.”

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