Election 2014 is over and Queen’s Park is returning to business on July 2, 2014. Premier-Elect Kathleen Wynne has signaled her intention to re-introduce the 2014-2015 Ontario budget, Building Opportunity, Securing Our Future as one of the first orders of business. As reported in a previous issue of Mental Health Notes, the 2014-2015 budget focused on jobs, economy, transportation and infrastructure, as well as issues connected to health care, mental health and addictions.
The budget had outlined the government’s continued commitment to fund Open Minds Healthy Minds: Ontario’s 10-year Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.
Specifically, the budget had outlined the government’s continued commitment to fund Open Minds Healthy Minds: Ontario’s 10-year Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy and had made the following commitments:
- A two-year, $148-million investment in the strategy, which is being expanded to include improved transitions between youth and adult services, and support for adults and those living with addiction issues.
- Enhanced annual funding for the Community Homeless Prevention Initiative (CHPI) by $42 million starting in 2014/2015 to a total of $294 million. CHPI is part of the government’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy, which allows municipalities flexibility to address local housing priorities.
- A $50-million investment over five years to create a new poverty reduction fund targeted at supporting local solutions to poverty, including raising social assistance rates.
- A Fair Minimum Wage legislation that will index minimum wage to Ontario’s Consumer Price Index beginning in October 2015.
The Ontario Mental Health and Addictions Alliance, a coalition of nine organizations from across the continuum of care, including CMHA Ontario, is pleased to acknowledge its role in keeping a focus on mental health and addictions issues during the Election. As we look to the future, the Liberal Party’s response to the following five questions posed by the Alliance can also be a valuable indicator of the government’s proposed direction regarding mental health and addictions.
The Alliance had asked Ontario’s political parties five questions:
- The cost of mental illness and addiction is estimated to be $39 billion in Ontario. Meanwhile, access to mental health and addiction services is generally very poor and varies widely across the province. Assuming this is unacceptable to your party, what specific measures would your government take to ensure that people with mental illness and addictions across Ontario get the care they need?
- In 2011 the provincial government launched Open Minds, Healthy Minds, Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. Would your government support the continued implementation of this strategy? What would your party do to ensure continued progress in this area?
- Supports and services for people with mental illness and addiction often cross many different government ministries. How would your party ensure there is broad, government-wide leadership on mental health and addictions?
- Reducing hospitalization (and re-hospitalization) of people with mental illness requires access to affordable housing with supports. How will your party improve access to supportive housing?
- Is there anything else you would want Ontarians to know about your commitment to mental health and addictions services?