One in five of us [Mental Health Funding]

Posted on in Health Debates – Opinion/Letters to the Editor – Re Health Spending Fails To Keep Pace With Inflation, Population Growth (Dec. 15):
Dec. 16, 2016.   STEVE LURIE

A 10-year deal on health care would benefit provinces and all Canadians – but there must be targeted money for mental-health services, which did not receive adequate funding in the last accord.

A recent report prepared for the Ontario government shows an annual $1.5-billion shortfall in mental-health services based on disease burden.

As the Parliamentary Budget Officer has pointed out numerous times, without an agreement on funding, the federal share of health funding will decline from 21 per cent to 9 per cent by 2024. A small investment of $87 per Canadian over 10 years would improve access to mental-health care, which has not received sufficient funding from provincial governments.

In Toronto alone, more than 12,000 people are on the list for supportive housing, with waits up to seven years; almost 2,000 people are waiting for intensive case management services post discharge from hospital.

Cuts to health spending if no agreement is reached will make access to mental-health services more difficult when we should be improving care for the one in five Canadians who experience mental illness each year.

Steve Lurie, executive director, Canadian Mental Health Association Toronto Branch

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