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CMHA celebrates significant commitment in community mental health in Federal Budget 2024

Apr 16, 2024

On 16 April 2024, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the federal government’s 2024 Budget.  

Following years of dedicated advocacy for better investments in community-based mental health care, CMHA welcomes the federal commitment to establish a Youth Mental Health Fund to help community health organizations provide more care for younger Canadians.  

The budget proposes an investment of $500 million over 5 years starting in 2024-2025, with the aim of reducing wait times and providing more options for young people seeking the mental health care they need.   

We know that approximately 50% of mental health disorders start by the mid-teen years, and 75% start by the mid-20s. Yet youth struggle to find the mental health care they need. According to Mental Health Research Canada, 32% of youth looking for mental health support reported cost as the primary reason for not accessing the care.1  

“Because of how our mental health system is structured, community-based organizations don’t receive the same level of funding as hospitals and doctors’ offices. Community agencies are stretched beyond capacity to meet rising needs across the country, and we have long wait lists for our free services,” said CMHA National CEO, Margaret Eaton. “This funding is critically needed and will go a long way to address the mental health challenges facing young people as they struggle with the shockwaves from the high costs of living and unaffordability crisis.” 

CMHA expresses concerns that a significant portion of the proposed funding is backloaded to after the next scheduled federal election. We look forward to working with the government to inform the structure of this new fund. CMHA is advocating for the Fund to be directed to non-profit community organizations delivering mental health programming with a view to establish new programs where there is need and scale up existing supports and services that have a proven track record of delivering positive outcomes. 

“This is a huge opportunity to see investment where community organizations are leading the way in areas like peer support, early psychosis intervention, mental health promotion and mental illness prevention, support for social and emotional learning, and treatments for youth with eating disorders.” said Eaton. 

More to be done for supportive housing 

Despite Budget 2024’s focus on addressing the affordable housing crisis, CMHA is disappointed at the lack of operational funding that helps maintain supportive and transitional housing services to low-income, vulnerable Canadians.  

Supportive housing— often run by community agencies— provides homes for people with high needs who may require services like counselling, case management, employment assistance and other supports. The cost to run these supports can be high, yet, research shows these investments reduce hospitalizations and emergency department visits, which in turn reduce healthcare system costs.  

The federal government’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy commits to eliminating chronic homelessness of 50% by 2027-2028. CMHA is advocating with federal officials for investments in housing options that enable people living with serious and persistent mental illnesses to obtain and maintain housing that provides the additional supports they may need as a way for the government to meet its homelessness targets.  

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