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.

NDP- MP Gord Johns Statement on National Addictions Awareness Week

NDP Mental Health and Harm Reduction critic Gord Johns made the following statement: 

"This week is National Addiction Awareness Week, which is an important time for us to all reflect on those who've lost their lives to toxic drug overdoses, and who are struggling with substance use disorder. 

With Canada facing a toxic substance crisis that's costs more than 30,000 lives since 2016, it's ever been more critical for the government to make necessary changes to national policy, so that mental health and substance use disorders are a part of Canada's universal health care. 

The government need to deliver a coordinated, integrated and compassionate system that meets people where they at, and when they need help. 

This week and every week, we're committed to fighting for the inclusion of no-wait, no-cost addiction treatment services as an essential component of Canada's universal healthcare system. New Democrats believe that you should be able to great treatment when you need it, without having to worry about the out-of-pocket costs, and that's what we're fighting for. 

IN THE NEWS- A perfect storm for mental health needs and care in the economic downturn

In The News- Rising Costs of living are having a major impact on the mental health of millions of Canadians. 

Written by Gord Johns, he states that the mental health of Canadians continues to worsen with alarming numbers of the population experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and suicidal ideation in this economic downturn. 

We know this from recent research by the independent Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC), and from warning from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CHMA). 

We also know this from our own families, friends, and co-workers. Members of Parliament know this from constituents, including heartbreaking stories from parents faced with mortgaging the family home to finance substance use disorder treatment for a child, or from a low-income worker unable to afford a private practitioner and stuck on a months-long wait list to see a hospital psychologist.


NDP MP Gord Johns Statement on World Mental Health Day

NDP Mental Health and Harm Reduction Critic Gord Johns made the following statement: 

"Today, Canadians observe World Mental Health Day. It's a important day to recognize that sound mental health is a universal human right, as declared by the World Health Organization. 

Food security, housing and the best possible start in life for our children are all important for good mental health, but many are going without. It's the responsibility of the government to make sure all Canadians can access these needs. 

But still, 1 in 2 Canadians will experience a mental illness by the time they reach 40 years of age. Yet, getting the help they need is extremely difficult in Canada. Therapy can be extremely costly without private insurance, and waitlists remain long ever if people are able to afford coverage. 

It is our time for our federal government to accept the responsibility of ensuring full and cost-free access to mental health services for all Canadians. And, it is time to achieve parity of mental health care with physical care through hospital and community-based services throughout Canada. Diagnostic and treatment services for anxiety, depression, mood disorder or other mental health illnesses must be as easily accessible. 

New Democrats promise not to give up the fight to make mental health care affordable and accessible and to fight against stigma. No one should have to suffer in silence, and together we can support one another". 

NDP MP Gord Johns statement on Mental Illness Awareness Week

At the beginning of Mental Illness Awareness Week, NDP Mental Health and Harm reduction critic Gord Johns made the following statement: 

"As Mental Illness Awareness Week kicks off, it's important that we think of all those who are struggling with mental illness and those who've lost their lives to it. 

The ongoing cost-of-living crisis and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to affect many Canadians' mental health and wellbeing. It's never been more important for us to work together to ensure people receive barrier-free mental health support and to better understand the lived experiences of people who suffer from mental health illnesses. 

1 in 2 Canadians will experience a mental illness by the time they reach 40 years of age. Yet, getting the help they need is extremely difficult in Canada. Therapy can be extremely costly without private insurance, and waitlists remain long eve if people are able to afford coverage.

NDP MP Gord Johns Statement on Mental Health Week

NDP Mental Health and Harm Reduction Critic Gord Johns made the following statement: 

"Everyone, at some point in their lives, will feel the impacts of mental health issues- whether it's a loved one who is suffering, a friend, a colleague, or even ourselves. And when this happens, it can be scary and cause tremendous worry. 

That's why Canadians want to know that when their loved ones are struggling, or they themselves are having a hard time, good care and support will be readily available. 

But under the current Liberal government, getting the help you need can take months. And once you can finally access support, the costs are very high. People are already struggling with the high cost of living, and having to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for help with your mental health just causes more stress for Canadians in crisis. 

Action is needed urgently. 

Every day in Canada, more than 200 people attempt to take their own life and about 20 people die from toxic substances overdoses. This is a public health emergency that government needs to confront to save lives. 

New Democrats are committed to this fight, that's why we're pushing to make sure the Liberals actually deliver on a Canada Mental Health Transfer, and why we've called for the GST to be removed from all therapy services. 

This week, we promise not to give up this fight. Together, we can make a difference by supporting physical and mental wellness and reducing the stigma, so that no one has to suffer in silence". 


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.”

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