Open Letter – Health Accord
Ottawa, ON, November 9, 2016
The Hon. Sarah Hoffman, Alberta Minister of Health
The Hon. Terry Lake, British Columbia Minister of Health
The Hon. Kelvin Goertzen, Manitoba Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living
The Hon. Victor Boudreau, New Brunswick Minister of Health
The Hon. Dr. John Haggie, Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Health and Community Services
The Hon. Glen Abernethy, Northwest Territories Minister of Health and Social Services
The Hon. Leo Glavine, Nova Scotia Minister of Health
The Hon. George Hickes, Nunavut Minister of Health
The Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Health
The Hon. Robert Henderson, Prince Edward Island Minister of Health and Wellness
The Hon. Dr. Gaétan Barrette, Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services
The Hon. Jim Reiter, Saskatchewan Minister of Health
The Hon. Mike Nixon, Yukon Minister of Health and Social Services
Dear Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health,
A mental health crisis is around the corner in Canada. Stigma is lessening and people are coming forward to get help, but an already overtaxed and underfunded system can’t meet the rising demand.
This year, one in five people in our country will experience a mental health problem – that’s 6.7 million Canadians. Many will seek treatment, only to find that wait-lists are soaring. Some people won’t receive support until they find themselves in emergency rooms, shelters or, unfortunately, the justice system. Even more troubling, suicide is a leading cause of death among young people.
Of the billions we spend on health care in Canada, only about seven per cent goes to mental health. To put this in a global context, the UK’s National Health Service spends more than 13 per cent. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Canada’s relatively small investment puts us near the back of the pack among developed countries.
That’s why Canada’s leading mental health organizations are prevailing upon the provinces and territories and the federal government to work together to reshape our broken system.
Targeted mental health funding, tied to measureable outcomes, must be part of the new Health Accord. If the federal health minister is inclined to spend money on specific mental health initiatives, let’s give her every reason to open up the country’s coffers.
We know how to improve outcomes, both social and economic. We must invest in prevention, access to early intervention, psychotherapies, collaborative community mental health and e-mental health. Without an infusion of new dollars, help for mental illness will remain a privilege, well outside the grasp of some of the most vulnerable populations.
When Medicare was founded, more than a half century ago, it entrenched inequity between mental illness and physical illness. The federal government may be ready to seize a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redress five decades of underfunding and eliminate the barriers faced by people living with mental illness.
Let’s work together to clear every obstacle from their path.
Taking federal dollars earmarked for life altering – and in some cases, life-saving –mental health services is a winning proposition. Every province and territory has a mental health strategy. These plans arose from extensive consultations with experts, and are informed by the crucial insights of people living with mental illness and their families and caregivers. The time for strategies is long gone – it’s time for action. If the Trudeau Liberals want to invest in the very plans provinces and territories have created to meet the needs of their residents, and provide further support for national action on targeted solutions, where is the downside?
Let’s finally take Canada off the wait-list.
Louise Bradley, President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada
Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Dr. Patrick Smith, President and CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, National
THE MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION OF CANADA
The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together we create change. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada.
www.mentalhealthcommission.ca | strategy.mentalhealthcommission.ca
THE CENTRE FOR ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit camh.ca or follow @CAMHnews on Twitter.
THE CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION
Founded in 1918, The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is a national charity that helps maintain and improve mental health for all Canadians. As the nationwide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA helps people access the community resources they need to build resilience and recover from mental illness and addictions. Visit the CMHA website at www.cmha.ca today. “LIKE” our Facebook page. Follow us on Twitter @CMHA_NTL.
Hélène Côté, Senior Communications Advisor, Marketing and Communications
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Sean O’Malley, Media Relations
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Carolyn Lovas, Senior Communications and Media Advisor
Canadian Mental Health Association, National