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QUESTION PERIOD — Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions

Mental Health Services

March 21, 2024

Minister, welcome and thank you for being here today. My question is based on very direct community feedback and the lived experiences of community members who continue to suffer deeply.

Currently, with a physical injury, a patient can be discharged to physiotherapy, have a nurse visit their home or receive occupational therapy. Many patients in need of mental health care are discharged, with a wait time of up to two years for therapy, such as dialectical behaviour therapy, or DBT. While some can access care through their insurance plan sooner, this still leaves a huge swath of Canadians who remain out of luck in this crucial area of patient care.

Does your government intend to work with provinces to make mental health services more readily available for all Canadians discharged from hospitals with mental health afflictions?

Hon. Ya’ara Saks, P.C., M.P., Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health [ + ]

I thank you for the question. As mentioned previously, that is exactly why we made sure that mental health and substance use were key principles in our bilateral agreements, with a commitment of $25 billion over the next 10 years in addition to the regular mental health transfers. That said, as cited previously, over 30% of the allocated funds that we’ve seen through these agreements have been dedicated to mental health. We’re continuing to look at the action plans that have been provided by jurisdictions, ensuring that every one of them has understood that patient navigation will be a key component in ensuring that people can access mental health care in their communities. We continue to do collaborative work with them to ensure that health care sector workers are available to Canadians in their jurisdictions, including social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists.

Is there an existing commitment to ensure the funding sent to the provinces ensures that front-line staff are properly trained in suicide intervention skills and trauma? This informs care, and based on our discussions and learning with stakeholders, it doesn’t seem to be happening.

Ms. Saks [ + ]

Thank you for the question. As mentioned previously, we’re working collaboratively with many sectors across Canada, including the health sector, on the national standards for mental health care. This allows us to work with health care providers, corporations, other organizations and institutions to ensure that they have the key tools they need within their own communities and workplaces, and also the assessment tools that they will be required to use in the work that they do. As you’re well aware, health is a jurisdiction of the provinces and territories. We continue to work collaboratively to provide resources and regulatory supports so that they’re implemented.

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