Toronto – The following is a statement from Camille Quenneville, CEO of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division, in reaction to the provincial budget.
“CMHA Ontario welcomes the Ontario budget and supports the government’s commitment to the Roadmap to wellness: a plan to build Ontario’s mental health and addictions system.
“Another bright spot of this budget is the government’s commitment to support the mental health of front-line health care workers. Front-line workers delivering, physical, mental health and addictions care in Ontario are burned out and struggling. Many are leaving the sector and we recognize this as a significant challenge for service providers and for the government.
“We support the government’s investment into programs that focus on providing front-line health care workers access to specialized mental health services. With $4.6 million in provincial funding, CMHA Ontario has launched Your Health Space, a workplace mental health program specifically designed for Ontario’s health care settings. Your Health Space provides training that supports health care organizations across Ontario in addressing staff burnout and promoting psychological health and safety in the workplace.
“Since its launch three months ago, interest in Your Health Space indicates a need for this program on a larger scale. So far, about 140 health care settings representing about 4,200 front line workers in rural and urban areas have registered with Your Health Space. And feedback from organizations that have gone through the program has been extremely positive.
“But funding for Your Health Space is time limited and ends next spring. We encourage the government to invest further into this program so that we can expand and do more to help front-line workers for years to come.
“The budget also highlights another critical funding issue for CMHA Ontario: more investment is needed to support the community mental health and addictions sector.
“Agencies like our CMHA branches across Ontario are in need of emergency structural funding. Years of flatlined investment coupled with inflationary pressures and increased demand for care during and after the pandemic has hurt our ability to deliver services.
“We are calling for an immediate and minimum eight per cent increase in base funding to help provide stability for our branches. An eight per cent boost and annualized funding increases will help community-based providers deliver better services, reduce wait lists and address operating costs that increase annually.
“Increased funding will also allow us to retain dedicated mental health and addictions staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic. Just like hospital staff, CMHAs and community agencies are losing dedicated workers due to burnout and exhaustion. We are struggling to attract and retain staff while also providing much-needed services to the public.”