With the upcoming provincial election, a new campaign from Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario is encouraging voters to put one topic at the top of their election wish list: mental health and addictions care.
Recent polls show that one in four people (24 per cent) have sought help for their mental health challenges during the pandemic.
Nearly 80 percent feel that Ontario is on track for a serious mental health crisis when the pandemic ends.
It’s clear that many Ontarians are weary and struggling. But at the same time, the dedicated service providers in the community mental health and addictions sector are at capacity. Without a substantial base funding increase, wait times will only grow longer and services will be less available. CMHA branches will continue to lose talented front-line staff to high rates of stress and burnout and better paying jobs elsewhere in the health sector.
“Most CMHA branches have not seen a base funding increase in the past 5-10 years, straining their ability to meet the increasing demand for their programs and services,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario. “We need additional funding to support our clients, those in need of service and the people providing care.”
Each CMHA branch needs at least an eight per cent increase in base funding. A base budget increase will help CMHAs and other community-based providers address operating costs that increase annually, deliver more services, reduce wait times while tackling high rates of stress and burnout amongst frontline staff.
Most of the funding the community sector receives is program-focused and does nothing to help with operational costs that increase annually. Base funding allows community service providers the flexibility to cover rising operational costs such as inflation, salaries and other overhead.
Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario. “The situation is dire as our workers are exhausted and emotionally fatigued.”
Community-based workers are now leaving for other health-related jobs that are better resourced and provide higher pay.
“Aside from providing high quality care, staff recruitment and retention is now the most significant issue,” Quenneville said. “We need a dedicated workforce to ensure that all Ontarians are receiving the mental health and addictions supports that they deserve.”
CMHA Ontario points to years or chronic underfunding as the main contributor to key issues like staff retention, growing wait lists and severe shortage of supportive housing.
Since 2016 the government has provided $132 billion for the acute care sector versus $7 billion for community mental health and addictions.
What funding the community sector receives is always time-limited and specific to delivery of a program or service, meaning agencies have little flexibility in how to use the investment.
CMHA Ontario calls for a substantial, immediate and ongoing base funding increase for the community mental health and addictions sector.
Unlike program-specific investment, base funding allows community service providers the flexibility to cover rising operational costs such as inflation, salaries and other overhead.
“Community providers often have to choose between maintaining services for clients or keeping the lights on and paying staff a fair wage,” Quenneville said. “This does a tremendous disservice to the Ontarians we are committed to helping every day.”
Here are examples of what is happening at some CMHA branches because of a lack of provincial base funding:
- 66 per cent of resignations over the last two years have been salary-based
- Positions go unfilled because there’s not enough funding; candidates are offered jobs but refuse due to low salary
- Roles change from provincially regulated professions (i.e. social workers, nurses, occupational therapists) to unregulated roles which come at a lower salary
- CMHA registered nurses make 33 per cent less than registered nurses at other health care providers
- CMHA Ontario urges the public to vote for the party that will invest significantly in the community mental health and addictions system.
For more information about the “I choose” campaign, visit
www.ichoosemha.ca or follow #ichoosemha on social media.
When heading to the ballot box, we hope you will support the political party that prioritizes mental health and addictions care.
Read CMHA Ontario’s news release on base funding for the “I choose” campaign.
For a broader look at the challenges impacting mental health and addictions services in Ontario, visit www.everythingisnotok.ca