TORONTO – POLITICS – “Mental health care is health care. And together, we can do so much better. We can take action to fix it — so in Ontario, you’ll get mental health care with your OHIP card, not your credit card,” states NDP leader Andrea Horwath.
Ontario’s New Democrats will deliver Universal Mental Health Care for the province if elected in June, the NDP leader announced at a campaign event today.
With Horwath’s plan, counselling and therapy will be covered by your OHIP card, not a credit card, and publicly funded mental health services will be expanded and more accessible. The NDP’s comprehensive plan includes a suite of investments and changes to give the mental health and addictions sector more staff, resources and coordination, including the creation of Mental Health Ontario.
“Never has the need been so great. A silent epidemic of mental health struggles swept in with COVID, exposing just how broken Ontario’s system is. Millions of people are dealing with anxiety, stress and fear for their loved ones, their health and their jobs. After two years of disruption, countless kids are struggling with personality changes and anxiety. Too many of us are coping with grief and loss,” said Horwath. “Too often, people who think they need help also think they’ll never be able to afford it. People are suffering with nowhere to turn.
The NDP’s Universal Mental Health plan is estimated to cost $1.15 billion when fully implemented.
At least one in four Ontarians sought mental health or addictions help during the pandemic. Counselling is the service most commonly needed. Psychotherapists, psychologists, nurses and social workers can offer therapy, but unless they are part of a family health team it’s not covered by OHIP.
The NDP state that, “Doug Ford’s Conservatives have cut more than $2 billion in planned mental health spending since 2018. Before that, the Kathleen Wynne government with Steven Del Duca froze mental health funding for youth for more than 10 years. For the bits and pieces of the mental health system that are free, the wait lists can be literally years long as a result of these freezes and cuts.”
Horwath says, “No one should have to turn to the emergency room again and again for a mental illness that could be better treated and managed. And you shouldn’t have to rack up credit card bills for mental health care — not for yourself or for your kids,” said Horwath. “Guaranteeing mental health care without cost will relieve pressure on hospitals, emergency services and the justice system. But most importantly, it’ll help people live their healthiest, best life.”
In the days ahead, the NDP leader will announce further commitments to address the opioid and overdose epidemic.