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Local group pushing to make mental health and addictions an election issue

KAWARTHA LAKES-The Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge (HKPR)chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)is pushing to make mental health and addictions an election issue.

They say wait times are up, programs have been cut and people are falling through the cracks. “For decades, mental health and addictions services in communities throughout Ontario have been chronically underfunded compared to other parts of the health care system. The result: it’s impossible to meet the needs of Ontarians.” said a press release on Tuesday.

Mark Graham, HKPR CMHA says “Locally, as recent as 6 months ago and for the past 3 years we have had a shortage of access to psychiatry. Individuals have had to wait 12 to 15 months for an initial psychiatric appointment.”

However that’s changed slightly in recent months after PRHC was able to recruit 3 new psychiatrists reducing the wait time down to 3 to 4 months.

Graham also says their present housing subsidies for affordable housing is not enough to cover the estimated rents in Peterborough, Northumberland and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Individuals on ODSP Ontario Disability Support Program receives $489 housing subsidy and CMHA receives $422 maximum rental subsidy. Rent on average is $1000 in Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes and $1100 in Northumberland. There is a short fall of $100 to $200 and even more if utilities are not included. “Furthermore, We have a 0.8% vacancy rate in Peterborough. There are just not enough units available for the need. Presently Peterborough has 119 actual homeless individuals. This excludes Shelter and warming room numbers.” Graham told Kawartha 411.

Graham says the 2017 Health budget was $54 Billion with only 3.5 Billion allocated to mental health and addictions. That’s a total of 6.5 %, yet according to Graham the burden of mental illnesses is 1.5 times of all cancers combined and 7 times of all infectious diseases. He says they need 9 % or a 2.5 % increase for mental health from 6.5 %. An additional 1.4 billion dollars. “Our pre election campaign intends to involve our local board members to meet with candidates and MPP’s to have an in depth discussion on the need for this province to increase its’ funding for local mental health and addiction services.” says Graham, “CMHA HKPR has not seen a cost of living allowance in 8 years. As a result we struggle with operational costs including staff retention, rising benefit costs, rising hydro rates that impact service delivery.”

There are currently 17,000 households are waiting for affordable housing in Ontario. Graham says it’s cheaper to house a person in the community than in a psychiatric hospital. “The cost to house a person in community with support is $72 day.  The cost to keep a person in psychiatric hospital is $486 day.”

CMHA says now that there’s more acceptance of the urgent need for quality mental health and addiction services it’s time to ask local politicians where they stand on the issues. “We are also endeavouring for all Ontarians who have been touched by mental illness or addictions issues to get active and sign the petition.”

They’ve launched the #erasethedifference hashtag and website and are calling on the community to join them. “Now is the time for all Ontarians who have been touched by mental health or addictions issues to make their voice heard. Join us in letting provincial candidates know that it’s time to #erasethedifference and fund mental health and addictions care the same as physical health care.” The provincial election is June 7th, 2018.

For your information go to:http://www.erasethedifference.ca/

 

&nbspphoto credit: simmons.kevin4208 Mental Health via photopin (license)

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Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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