Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Government Pledges $2.1 Billion to Rebuild Mental Health System

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Government Pledges $2.1 Billion to Rebuild Mental Health System

Article excerpt

Ontario to spend $2.1B on mental health

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TORONTO - Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday her government will spend $2.1 billion over the next four years to rebuild Ontario's mental health system -- the latest in a string of funding announcements the opposition parties are calling an attempt by the Liberals to bolster their re-election chances.

Wynne, whose is facing an uphill battle in the upcoming spring election, said the spending will make services more accessible, ensuring people can find treatment through a local doctor's office, school or community-based organization.

"We have a good system," Wynne said. "But the fact is that too many people are struggling to navigate the system to find the care that they need, either because it's not there or because they don't have a way of navigating. Part of today's announcement is about ensuring that there is no wrong door to accessing mental health care."

Wynne said her plan would bolster youth access to therapy and counselling, allowing 12,000 more young people to access service in 2018-2019 and growing that number to 46,000 in 2021-2022.

It also calls for every secondary school in the province to have access to an additional mental health worker, creating approximately 400 new positions within two years.

"This announcement means that every high school will have access to an additional mental health worker and more mental health services on college and university campuses so that your son or daughter can get the help that they need if they're struggling with anxiety or an eating disorder," Wynne said.

The program would also increase access to publicly funded psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioural therapy, for up to 350,000 more people with mild to moderate anxiety or depression.

The announcement comes after a government throne speech Monday that promised a significant funding commitment for mental health in the provincial budget, which will be tabled on March 28.

Progressive Conservative legislator Lisa MacLeod, who has spoken publicly about her own mental health struggles, said government inaction has lead to long waits for mental health care across the province. …

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