(St. Catharines, March 23, 2017) CMHA congratulates the Federal Government for demonstrating a strong commitment to mental health in Canada in its 2017 Budget. The Government’s significant investment in mental heath is a great start toward correcting the historical, woeful underfunding of mental health in this country. However, there is some way to go before mental health care is funded on par with physical health care, and in proportion to the burden of illness. The Canadian Mental Health Association calls for continued investment in mental health – especially in community-based services and support – to bring Canada in line with other G8 countries, where it still lags behind.

Dr. Patrick Smith, CMHA National CEO says: “This is the first time we have seen targeted mental health funding of this magnitude. The underfunding cannot be fixed overnight, but this is a significant leap forward in transforming Canada’s universal medical care system into a truly universal health care system.”

CMHA National Director of Program Innovation, Greg Kyllo, poses with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at 2017 Budget

Through its comprehensive “whole of government” approach, the Federal Government is demonstrating its broad understanding of mental health, through additional funding, for example, for housing and justice. It is especially encouraging to see that this government will prioritize housing support for vulnerable citizens, including: seniors, Indigenous Peoples, survivors fleeing domestic violence, persons with disabilities, those dealing with mental health issues, and veterans.

CMHA also applauds this government’s targeted funding for high need communities, such as veterans, active duty military, and military families, as well as Indigenous Peoples, caregivers, children and youth, and individuals living with substance-related disorders. When it comes to our Indigenous communities, we are thrilled by this Government’s proposal to support the services of traditional healers to address mental health needs.

CMHA looks forward to seeing the targeted mental health funding invested in community-based mental health services; these include services provided by social workers, psychologists, addiction counsellors, peer support workers and other coaches and counsellors, as well as in evidence-based interventions delivered in the community. Dr. Smith notes: “We need to see the targeted funding invested strategically in community-based services. and we need to keep the foot on the gas.”

The Canadian Mental Health Association stands for mental health for all, and believes that it is only in mentally healthy societies that people can thrive. Creating a truly healthy society requires sustained investment in mental health care as well as mental health promotion and illness prevention by both the government and private sectors. Everyone in Canada has a role to play to transform our response to mental health for all Canadians.