While the cost of living soars and Canadians struggle to afford mental health care, the government is dragging its feet on promised mental health funding.

Addressing access to mental health care has been a priority for me, as the NDP critic for mental health and harm reduction. I am fighting to bring mental health into our universal health care system as an essential service.

I tabled Motion M-67 to require the government to follow through on their promises for mental health funding and bring forward legislation to ensure all Canadians can access help when they need it most.

The government must invest $4.5 billion over the next five years to improve mental health care services. I believe in a holistic vision of health and well-being that is inclusive of physical, mental and emotional health. The exclusion of care for dental health and mental health in the Canadian universal health care system must be rectified by the federal government.

IN THE NEWS- NDP demanding better mental health supports

NDP Mental Health and Harm Reduction Critic Gord Johns made the following statement on the Liberals' new health care agreement with the provinces and territories, and its exclusion of urgently needed mental health funding:

“After doing everything right and isolating during a global pandemic, Canadians are now dealing with a cost-of-living crisis exacerbating stress, anxiety, and feelings of isolation. But when people reach out for help, they’re met with either wait lists that are months long or high costs that put help out of reach.

Mental health care is health care. No one should have to decide between filling their fridge or getting the quality health care they need. But unfortunately, Canadians are having to make tough choices. That’s why people were expecting Justin Trudeau to include real mental health supports in his government’s new health care agreement with the provinces and territories – but Canadians have yet again been disappointed by the Liberals

There’s still no funding in sight for their promised Canada Mental Health Transfer and with the new health care plan, no specific or measurable funds have been given for community mental health and substance use treatment. People's lives are on the line – and they shouldn’t have to rely on our overcrowded emergency rooms as a primary resource for help. With 35 per cent of Canadians experiencing severe mental health issues it’s unconscionable to hold back on health funding.

The government needs to be doing everything possible to reduce barriers people face when they reach out for help. New Democrats are urging the Liberals to stop delaying and increase mental health spending to expand access to care, reduce strain on emergency rooms, reduce the high costs of services for patients, and put supports in place to fight Canada’s toxic drug crisis. We will keep fighting to make sure people suffering from mental health issues and substance use disorders can get the support they need without fear of the costs"

IN THE NEWS- NDP urging the Liberals to stop breaking their health care promises and protect Canadians

NDP Mental Health and Harm Reduction critic Gord Johns made the following statement as the federal government’s decriminalization pilot program in British Columbia is set to start:

“Canada is in a public health crisis as thousands of Canadians struggle with their mental health and with substance use disorders. It is encouraging that all the efforts of the British Columbia’s NDP government have resulted in the removal of stigma for drug users through the decriminalization of substance use. There is, however, an urgent need for this same approach to be taken across the country. 

Outside of B.C., 14 Canadians die every single day because of the toxic drug crisis. And with the high costs and long waitlists to get help, people are being forced to turn to our already overwhelmed Emergency Rooms. Canadians want to see a real plan for mental health and addiction supports that include the provision of a safe regulated supply for users, on-demand treatment services and recovery and prevention programs across the country"

IN THE NEWS- Gord urges Liberal Government to prioritize mental health support

OTTAWA – Last week, NDP Mental Health and Harm Reduction Critic Gord Johns sent a letter to the Minister of Finance urging her to prioritize mental health and substance use care in the government’s 2023 Federal Budget by creating better programs to support Canadians.

“Canadians need mental health supports. After doing everything right to protect our communities during a global pandemic, people have been experiencing extreme stress, anxiety and feelings of isolation. They need more access to services that can help them,” said Johns. “The Liberals have continued to make promises then they never deliver on them—and it's Canadians who are paying the price. While the Liberals stall on funding commitments, families are losing their loved ones— something needs to change."

IN THE NEWS - iPolitics - 'People are dying': National standards delayed as talks continue over $4.5-billion mental health transfer

Gord Johns, Doherty's NDP counterpart, wrote to Minister Chrystia Freeland last week to ask that the upcoming budget prioritize the transfer. He said it would be "unconscionable" and "completely absurd" should the development of standards get in the way of a transfer at this point.

"There is a clear consensus from the mental health community (that) standards should not delay the Canada Mental Health Transfer," he said. "This is not how you respond to a crisis. This is not how you respond to ER rooms overflowing and a health care system near collapse."

Johns said he fears the current situation around service access will get worse with a recession underway. The cost of living is rising, and that added stress is going to exacerbate people's mental health issues and substance abuse, he said.

IN THE NEWS- People waiting in our emergency rooms are paying the price for Liberals and Conservatives not putting in the work

OTTAWA – Emergency rooms across British Columbia are overwhelmed, and some are even being forced to close, making families drive hours to get help or wait hours to get help. While our ERs are already overwhelmed with flu season and the pandemic, Canadians struggling with their mental health often have nowhere else to turn because of out-of-pocket costs and long waitlists for supports.

“Our emergency rooms cannot be the solution for the government’s failure to support people and their well-being,” said NDP Mental Health and Harm Reduction Critic MP Gord Johns (Courtenay – Alberni). “Canada needs to be treating the mental health crisis like the health emergency it is. That’s why New Democrats are calling on the Liberals to make mental health a part of our universal public healthcare system, deliver the funding frontline organizations have been pleading for, and to get everyday people the help they need. We will keep fighting to improve our health care system so that you and your children can access care when you need it most.”

IN THE NEWS- Liberals are failing Canadians mental health by refusing to deliver on mental health supports

In response to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) calling on the Liberals to implement a mental health care transfer payment to the provinces and territories, NDP Mental Health and Harm Reduction Critic Gord Johns made the following statement:

Across the country, people are suffering because they don’t have access to the mental health services they need. With the rising cost of living and long waitlists it’s almost impossible for people to get support when they need it. The provinces and territories have time and time again asked the Liberal government to step up on health care funding, but they haven’t acted.

IN THE NEWS- Gord calls on Liberals to finally fight the mental health crisis

OTTAWA – Today, In Question Period, NDP MP Gord Johns (Courtenay – Alberni) called on the Liberal government to actually follow through with their promises by helping Canadian workers with their mental health. Johns also called for all parliamentarians to support an urgently needed Canada Mental Health Transfer, to help provinces tackle a growing need for mental health services.
Here is Johns question:
“People in Canada are struggling with their mental health – and accessing help is almost impossible. Yesterday, a report found almost all Canadian workers have experienced mental distress. And for many it’s only getting worse.
Years ago, this government said it would amend the Canada Labour Code to protect workers, but the Liberals have failed to follow through.
Just like they haven’t delivered on promised new funding for mental health supports.
When will the government finally do what’s right by delivering on their promises to protect the mental health of workers?”
New Democrats will continue to pressure the Liberals to deliver needed mental health supports for those you and your family.
Click here to listen to Johns’ question in the House of Commons.
Click here to read Johns’ call for mental health supports.

IN THE NEWS – Brandon Sun - Bereavement Day bill passes, but much work lies ahead

The hope Bill 217 and the federal Bill C-216 would pass was shared by the Manitoba Harm Reduction Network, said coordinator Solange Machado.

Bill C-216, a private member's bill tabled by NDP mental health and harm reduction critic Gord Johns, who is MP for Courtenay-Alberni in B.C., as meant decriminalize simple possession, provide a pathway for people convicted of simple possession and create a national policy to create a safer supply of drugs.

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