MPPs talk SW men­tal health cri­sis

The London Free Press - - FRONT PAGE - RANDY RICHMOND THE LON­DON FREE PRESS

South­west­ern On­tario’s men­tal health cri­sis took cen­tre stage in the On­tario leg­is­la­ture Thurs­day dur­ing a de­bate over an NDP pro­posal to cre­ate a sep­a­rate min­istry on ad­dic­tion and men­tal health.

Long waits in Lon­don’s psy­chi­atric emer­gency de­part­ment and stu­dent sui­cides last year de­mand gov­ern­ment sup­port of the pri­vate mem­ber’s bill, Lon­don West New Demo­crat MPP Peggy Sat­tler said.

“In my city of Lon­don, we have had peo­ple wait­ing for a week or more on a hall­way stretcher in the Lon­don Health Sciences Cen­tre emer­gency room wait­ing for a men­tal health bed,” Sat­tler said.

“That is un­ac­cept­able, it is in­hu­mane and it can­not con­tinue.”

Four stu­dents at the Uni­ver­sity of Guelph and five high-school stu­dents in Wood­stock took their own lives last year, she said.

“There is a cri­sis in cam­pus men­tal health across this prov­ince,” Sat­tler said.

A new Min­istry of Men­tal Health and Ad­dic­tion would stop the frag­men­ta­tion of ser­vices cre­ated by hav­ing 11 dif­fer­ent min­istries han­dling the prob­lem, she said.

But El­gin-Mid­dle­sex-Lon­don Con­ser­va­tive MPP Jeff Yurek cau­tioned against spend­ing money on cre­at­ing a new min­istry.

“Cre­at­ing a whole new min­istry is go­ing to take money away from much needed ser­vices in or­der to cre­ate the struc­ture,” Yurek said dur­ing the de­bate.

“We need to fo­cus on ser­vices, fo­cus on ser­vice im­prove­ments. We don’t need to fo­cus on re­struc­tur­ing gov­ern­ment con­tin­u­ally,” said Yurek, the PC health critic at Queen’s Park.

Health Min­is­ter Eric Hoskins said ear­lier this week, when the NDP an­nounced its in­ten­tions, that he would need more time to con­sider the bill.

The new min­istry would be charged with cut­ting wait lists and stream­lin­ing ser­vices across the prov­ince, the NDP says.

The NDP says the gov­ern­ment has not taken ac­tion on rec­om­men­da­tions made in 2010 by an all-party se­lect com­mit­tee that in­ves­ti­gated the is­sue. At the time, that com­mit­tee’s top rec­om­men­da­tion was the es­tab­lish­ment of an um­brella or­ga­ni­za­tion to deal with men­tal health and ad­dic­tions is­sue sim­i­lar to Can­cer Care On­tario.

“Seven years later, On­tario still does not have a men­tal health and ad­dic­tions sys­tem,” NDP Health Critic France Géli­nas said in a re­lease.

In June, Bri­tish Columbia’s newly-elected NDP gov­ern­ment an­nounced it would cre­ate its own stand-alone min­istry to tackle the ad­dic­tions cri­sis in that prov­ince. With files from

The Cana­dian Press

Cre­at­ing a whole new min­istry is go­ing to take money away from much needed ser­vices in or­der to cre­ate the struc­ture.” Jeff Yurek, PC health critic

Hoskins

Geli­nas

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