The Ontario government has introduced legislation it says will improve access to mental health and addictions services and simplify system navigation for clients, caregivers and families.
If passed, the Foundations for Promoting and Protecting Mental Health and Addictions Services Act (2019) would establish a Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence within Ontario Health, and support Ontario’s ability to hold opioid manufacturers and wholesalers accountable by joining a national class action lawsuit.
The government said the proposed Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence would focus on data collection, quality improvement initiatives and core services implementation, and would ensure Ontario patients and families are able to access integrated, standardized, evidence-based care and services no matter where they live.
Additionally, the bill would allow the provincial government to participate in a class action lawsuit British Columbia launched in August 2018 against more than 40 opioid manufacturers and wholesalers on behalf of provincial, territorial, and federal governments, and give Ontario the right to bring an individual or a multi-government class action claim in the future.
The British Columbia class action, which alleges that these opioid manufacturers and wholesalers failed to warn doctors and the public of the dangers of opioids and marketed them as safer and less addictive than other medications when they were not, aims to recover government health care costs incurred due to opioid-related disease, injury or illness. Ontario would invest any award directly into frontline mental health and addiction services.