I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the mental health and addiction system in Ontario. Mental illnesses and addictions cost our province billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. 1 in 5 Ontarians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, but 2/3 do not receive the services they need.
We can do better. We must acknowledge the importance of an all encompassing solution. Mental health and addiction is not just a health care issue. It’s deeply connected to social and economic problems. Citizens with mental illness are often denied housing, have trouble finding jobs, miss out on educational opportunities, and can find themselves falling through the cracks of the justice system.
We need to empower people to take control of their lives through services provided within the community and to get back what they’ve lost in terms of jobs, education, housing and respect.
The Green Party would invest $1.6B over 4 years in family and community care clinics that integrate doctors with nurses, dieticians, psychologists, counselors and others.
We would reform the Local Health Integration Networks, which were supposed to promote community-based health care decision making, but aren’t working. Too many decisions are still being made behind closed doors.
A clear example is the way in which the new Methadone Clinic on Strickland Avenue in Parkdale was opened this summer. We know our residents work hard to help those in need. Parkdale has one of the highest densities of social programs, community health clinics, rooming houses, and food banks of any neighborhood in Toronto. The problem was the process that led to the opening of the clinic.
The Green Party, with its emphasis on smaller central government, would ensure local communities had input and oversight on these kinds of health care decisions. Residents know best.
These issues have touched me personally. In my capacity as a community leader I’ve established a national initiative called Secular Organizations for Sobriety, a recovery program for alcoholics and others suffering from addictions which has proven successful for many individuals who were not able to find help elsewhere. This is just one example of finding a community solution to an unmet need.