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January 24th, 2023

NDP MP urges Liberal government to prioritize mental health support in upcoming federal budget

OTTAWA – Last week, NDP Mental Health and Harm Reduction Critic Gord Johns sent a letter to the Minister of Finance urging her to prioritize mental health and substance use care in the government’s 2023 Federal Budget by creating better programs to support Canadians.

“Canadians need mental health supports. After doing everything right to protect our communities during a global pandemic, people have been experiencing extreme stress, anxiety and feelings of isolation. They need more access to services that can help them,” said Johns. “The Liberals have continued to make promises then they never deliver on them—and it's Canadians who are paying the price. While the Liberals stall on funding commitments, families are losing their loved ones— something needs to change."

The Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction notes that almost 35 per cent of Canadians suffer from moderate to severe mental health issues. But less than one in three people with mental health issues were able to access treatment.

Johns is calling for the Minister to include funding in the 2023 Budget for a Canada Mental Health Transfer, which would provide $875 million to the provinces and territories, something the Liberals promised to do by 2023 and still haven’t followed through on. Johns is also calling to increase mental health spending to expand access to care, reduce strain on emergency rooms, reduce the high costs of services for patients, and put supports in place to fight Canada’s toxic drug crisis.

“There is absolutely no room to cut spending or stall on needed funding increases right now. And it's unconscionable that this government would delay any further. Helping people with the support they deserve is the right thing to do, but it would also help ensure our Emergency Rooms are not over capacity. When people get the services they need, they are far less likely to need to go to the ER for care," added Johns.

“With the costs of living increasing at such a high rate, getting help is becoming even more difficult for Canadians. The government needs to be doing everything possible to reduce barriers people face when they reach out for help. New Democrats will keep fighting to make sure people suffering from mental health issues and substance use disorders can get the support they need without fear of the costs.”