Toronto, April 20, 2021: Today, Margaret Eaton, National CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), the most established and extensive community mental health organization in Canada, made the following statement in response to the federal budget:
The Canadian Mental Health Association commends the federal government for investing $994.6M in mental health care and shoring up vital social supports that will put good mental health within closer reach for more people.
The pandemic has caused extreme national anxiety with mental health effects like nothing we have seen before, and research suggests that Canadians will still be struggling with their mental health long after vaccination—especially those who have been made more vulnerable through job loss or worsening health inequities. We are thrilled to see the government take an important leadership role in meeting the needs of underserved populations, with targeted investments in Indigenous mental health, measures to curb the opioid poisoning crisis and problematic substance use and programs to cope with COVID-19 related trauma, as well as national mental health care standards.
Further, new socioeconomic supports including the federal minimum wage, affordable housing, employment insurance, childcare and measures to address homelessness will support the mental health and wellness of Canadians. A mentally healthy population is key to our country’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
While CMHA applauds this much-needed support, we underline that our mental health system has seen decades of chronic underfunding. The current system in Canada is based on responding to crisis, and to meeting the acute care needs of people with severe mental illness. Earlier access to services at the community level can prevent individuals from needing more cost- and time-intensive interventions down the road. We look forward to working with the federal government to ensure there is increased and sustained federal funding directed to community-based mental health organizations to support the mental well-being of all Canadians.
On the ground in over 330 local communities across Canada, CMHA’s vast network of caring staff and volunteers in every province and one territory is ready and waiting to get people the help they need. We look forward to working with the federal government to ensure an adequately funded, universally available mental health system that not only treats crises as they arise but allows for earlier intervention and treatment to help prevent distress and mental illness in the first place.