June 1st, 2018

Horwath to fund 30-day wait max for youth mental health services

ST. CATHARINES – Families are facing deep cuts that would mean even longer waits for youth mental health care under Doug Ford and the Conservatives, but Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath will make sure children and youth have faster access to mental health services. Horwath has promised, and budgeted for, an expansion of youth mental health that would mean a 30-day maximum wait.

Families are waiting up to a year-and-a-half for youth mental health supports, thanks to Liberal cuts over the last 15 years and a failure to fix and expand the fragmented system. More than 12,000 children are currently on a wait list for care from a mental health professional. Horwath announced Friday in St. Catharines that an NDP government will make a crucial investment of $590 million over five years to ensure kids can get the help they need within 30 days.

“No child should have to wait 18 months to see a counsellor or a therapist when they need help now,” said Horwath. “Allowing wait lists to balloon to 18 months has meant children’s well-being, and sometimes their lives, have been put at risk,” Horwath said.

“A 30-day maximum standard will offer hope to young people and their families coping with mental health challenges.”

The 30-day commitment is in addition to Horwath’s plan to hire 400 more mental health care workers to provide supports in every Ontario high school, plus 2,200 more mental health professionals, province-wide. Those plans are part of the NDP’s $2.4-billion plan to transform mental health and addictions services in Ontario.

The NDP will also create a dedicated Ministry for Mental Health and Addictions. Instead of the patchwork of programs divided among nearly a dozen ministries, a dedicated Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions will help put an end to a confusing, hard-to-navigate system that results in far too many people falling through the cracks.

Doug Ford and the Conservatives refuse to show Ontarians a fully-costed plan, only saying Ford will cut $6 billion in services people count on, and fund a big tax giveaway to the richest people in the province. Sweeping cuts would impact health care, including mental health care.