Keeping poverty on the agenda [Mental Health]

TheStar.com – Opinion/Letter – Re:Mental health still on agenda, Letter April 4
Published On Mon Apr 05 2010.   Steve Lurie

It was heartening to see Health Minister Deb Matthews commit to improving mental health services in Ontario in response to Carol Goar’s column. The recently released Select Committee report documented major gaps in care, as did the provincial auditor’s report.

Improving access to services requires funding. Mental health spending has been declining as a proportion of health spending. While the Liberals have raised health spending by $11.5 billion since coming to office, they have increased mental health spending by only $220 million, even though mental health problems affect 20 per cent of people each year.

The test of the minister’s new strategy will be to ensure adequate funding to support it. A number of OECD jurisdictions allocate 10 per cent of health spending to mental health. Ontario spends about half that amount. The new policy will need to set a similar goal if services and access are going to improve.

Steve Lurie, CMHA Toronto Branch

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