The provincial government should continue building on momentum created by Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy (2011) and provide targeted funding to enhance access to safe and affordable housing and provide income security, two key elements for recovery for people living with mental health conditions. The recommendations are contained in a submission CMHA Ontario was pleased to provide to the province to help inform the 2014 Ontario budget process. The submission to Ontario’s Finance Minister Charles Sousa was delivered on Friday, January 24, 2013 and coincides with pre-budget deliberations the minister had been hosting throughout the province.
In its submission, CMHA Ontario recognized the government’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, which in 2011 committed to investing $257 million over three years for child and youth mental health. However, CMHA Ontario noted that looking towards years four to 10 of the Strategy, the government should take steps to:
- Develop a Housing First model across Ontario to support marginalized populations, where housing is provided as the first step, in combination with supportive services, to people who are homeless and living with mental health and addictions issues;
- Ensure that any current and new investments in housing provide access to a range of housing options, including supportive housing, supported housing, and rent supplements for vulnerable populations, including those with mental health and addictions needs.
- Incrementally increase the minimum wage of $10.25 over 5 years to reach a wage of 10% above the poverty line by 2018.
- Promote workplace mental health by adopting the voluntary National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace within the Ontario Public Service, as well as recommending its adoption to all government-funded agencies; and supporting community-based programs, such as Mental Health Works, to address the mental health needs of employers and employees in the workplace.
- Increase investments to the community mental health and addictions sector by an additional 4% in fiscal 2014-15.
- focus on the adult and seniors populations in years four to ten of the Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy
For more on CMHA Ontario’s recommendations, read the full submission.