LIBERAL CANDIDATE JACLYNNE HAMEL
I would like to thank Algoma Public Health for their questions regarding mental health, addictions, and opioid use. I know that these issues are of vital importance to our community, and I appreciate the opportunity to share the Ontario Liberals’ plan to address these issues.
The matters of mental health, addictions, and the current opioid crisis are inherently interconnected. I look at these issues as parts of a whole; in order to address any one part, the others must also be addressed. I am not alone in this thinking - as I will outline below, my party has taken meaningful action on each of the three to ensure a holistic approach to supporting those with mental illness and ending the opioid crisis.
I want to begin with the Ontario Liberal government’s recent commitments for mental health supports, announced as part of our 2018 Budget. To deliver more accessible and better integrated care, we committed an unprecedented $2.1 billion investment over four years in mental health supports.
This $2.1 billion will include publicly funded psychotherapy, services for children in communities, services for students, supportive housing, provide additional supports to priority populations, and increase caregiver and family supports.
Across Ontario, up to 350,000 more people that experience mild to moderate anxiety or depression will have access to publicly-funded structured psychotherapy, provided through their doctor’s office or a community organization. These investments and initiatives are coupled with the creation of 2,475 more supportive housing units over four years.
As someone that has advocated for increased mental health supports, I am particularly proud of the supports that this investment will provide for young people. As you know, mental illness often presents itself in adolescence. That’s why $570 million of this investment is being targeted towards Ontario’s young people, so that our young people can access the supports they need.
With this investment, an additional 12,000 more young people will be able to access community-based services, like therapy and counselling, in 2018-19 alone. By 2021-22, that number will grow to an estimated 46,000 people.
To further support our young people, every secondary school in Ontario will have access to an additional mental health worker - an approximate 400 new positions being added within two years. We are also committed to creating at least 15 additional youth wellness hubs over the next four years to improve access to services for youth aged 12 to 25.
In regards to the opioid crisis, the Ontario Liberals have been clear: this is a public health crisis that requires urgent and immediate action. That is why we have taken action and made significant investments to address the opioid crisis in Ontario.
Our government put in place the most comprehensive opioid strategy in the country, investing over a quarter of a billion dollars to address addiction and support people in getting the help they need.
My party and I are committed to tackling this crisis. We have taken the following actions:
- Providing an immediate $222 million boost over three years to enhance Ontario’s Strategy to Prevent Opioid Addiction and Overdose;
- Adding more front-line harm-reduction workers across the province;
- Expanding the supply of life-saving Naloxone free of charge;
- Providing $70 million to expand Rapid Access Addiction Medicine Clinics across Ontario;
- Providing more access to harm reduction services like needle exchange programs and supervised injection sites; and
- Increasing investments in mental health supports.
While we know that these new measures are important steps that will help save lives, we are committed to continuing to take strong action to combat this crisis head on.
To me, there is no question that investments like these are necessary. As someone that has previously worked in this sector and seen the need for increased mental health supports, I am proud to stand by an agenda that sees investments in resources for our most vulnerable.
Again, I thank you for the opportunity to speak to your concerns.
Ontario Liberal Candidate, Sault Ste. Marie