All of the Ministers of Health including Ontario met with the Federal Minister of Health on October 18th, 2016 to discuss the Canada Health Transfer (“the Health Accord”). This is how the federal government transfers funds to the provinces to assist in paying for our healthcare.

The meetings reaffirmed the importance of improving care for transitional aged youth mental health and addiction services as they move into adult systems. The ministers also discussed the need to further develop services for people living with mental illnesses and addictions. Health budgets are the largest expenditures for provincial and territorial governments but we spend a miniscule portion on mental health. On average 7.2 per cent compared to countries like the United Kingdom which spend more than 9 per cent of their health budget on mental health.

Why does this matter? Let me provide you with a personal, albeit unusual example. Last week one of my daughters gave birth outside the hospital in her car. Medically she was not in distress, although this is a distressing situation. She was immediately provided with a room with the best possible care.

Contrast this to everyday situations for our clients. They are in distress, maybe suicidal, and definitely in need of a room for their safety and security. How often are they then discharged after a very long wait without a room and possibly without any follow up care in the community?

This is not a criticism of the hospital, but it is a criticism of our health care and how we prioritize our expenses.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has recommended that 9% of health spending be allocated to mental health. It may not give everyone with a mental health need a room in the hospital, or an alternative care arrangement in the community. However, it will be a good start.

…..and that is why it matters.