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December 8, 2014 Steve Lurie's letter to the Toronto Star published Dec 2, 2014, in response to how the new mayor can repair Toronto by investing in housing

thestar_logoRe: How the new mayor can repair Toronto, Opinion Nov. 30

Richard Florida is correct that housing should be a priority. Reducing homelessness among people living with mental illness works by implementing rapid access to housing and support services. The success of the approach has been proven through research in Canada and other jurisdictions.

Toronto currently has 8,000 people on the wait list, up from 700 four years ago. Taxpayers have invested $1.6 billion to rebuild CAMH and the Toronto South Detention Centre. We need a similar investment in supportive housing.

Steve Lurie, Executive Director, CMHA Toronto Branch

November 27, 2014 Steve Lurie was quoted in an article posted Nov 25, 2014, "CBC My Region - Police shootings often involve mental illness and ill-prepared officers"

steve-lurie-executive-director-of-the-canadian-mental-health-association-s-toronto-branch“Being mentally ill shouldn’t result in death, especially by law enforcement officers,” said Steve Lurie, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Toronto branch. “Were there ways of intervening rather than shooting to kill?”

Lurie said this latest case brings up many of the same issues raised all too often in the past. Toronto had three inquests last year and a commission of inquiry on police related shootings, with all of them released recommendations on how to reduce the use of deadly force by police officers.​

To read the article click Here

November 25, 2014 Steve Lurie's letter to the Globe and Mail in response to the article, "Ontario confronts four years of tough choices," published Nov 20, 2014

chy113The Globe is correct in noting that health care accounts for 50% of Ontario’s spending, and that per capita spending is among the lowest in Canada. While there has been over $18 billion of new investments in health care since 2004, only$300 million has been invested in community mental health.  The overall mental health share of health spending has declined to 5% from 11.3% in 1979, despite the fact that the burden of mental illness is 1.5times that of cancer and 7 times the burden of infectious disease. Wait lists have continued to grow. For example there are now 8,000 people on the wait list for supportive housing in Toronto, and only 436 were able to access supportive housing in the last year. Minister Hoskins faces some tough choices as he prepares to announce years 4-10 of Ontario’s mental health strategy. He can announce the renewal of the strategy and assume that it can be achieved with the $85 million included in the recent provincial budget, or he can make a commitment to increasing the mental health share of health spending to the 9% recommended by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Committing to the Mental Health Commission target would ensure that the strategy succeeds. Adding $160 million of funding per year would add less than 1/3 of 1 % to health care spending, but dramatically  increase access to needed services and supports.

 To read the article click Here

November 21, 2014 Awareness Video

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November 17, 2014 Steve Lurie's letter to the Toronto Star, published Nov 17, 2014, in response to "Feds out of touch with ordinary folks"

SteveMental health services across the country were not cut, but they didn’t receive much of the $41 billion in health funding transferred to the provinces by the federal government.

As the Parliamentary Budget Officer has noted, provinces will be hard pressed to maintain current levels of health care spending when health transfers decline and will unable to make needed investments in community mental health services and supportive housing to improve access to care and reduce waitlists, let alone receive the 9 per cent share of health funding recommended by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Current share of spending on mental health in Ontario is 5 per cent, down from 11.3 per cent in 1979. Some of that federal surplus should be invested in eliminating the deficit in mental health care.

Steve Lurie, Executive Director, Canadian Mental Health Association Toronto Branch

Click Here to read the Toronto Stars’ Opinion / Readers’ Letters

November 14, 2014 Annual Report 2014

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October 14, 2014 Steve Lurie's letter to the Globe and Mail, published Oct 10, 2014, in response to the article, "Let the provinces' fiscal squawing begin"

G&MFor the third year in a row the Parliamentary Budget Office has signaled that the provinces will be hard pressed to maintain health care spending while the federal government will post surpluses. Between 2004 and 2014 the provinces spent very little of the 6% federal transfers on mental health, even though the burden on families and patients is 1.5 times that of cancer and. 7.5 times the burden of infectious disease. For the 20% of Canadians who will experience mental illness each year and require treatment, the PBO report portends less access to care and growing waiting lists. It is time to reconsider Senator Michael Kirby’s proposal for a 10 year mental health transition fund that would help provinces shift to more effective and less costly community care.

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September 8, 2014 Steve Lurie's letter to the Globe and Mail, published Sept 6, 2014, in response to the article, "Provincial challenges, federal dollars."

2014-simpson-headThe Parliamentary Budget Officer has indicated that provinces will encounter major difficulties maintaining health services post 2017 when the transfer formula changes. This will be especially problematic in areas like mental health care that did not receive much investment over the past 10 years. For example, Ontario added over $16 billion to health care spending from 2004-2011 and only invested $220 million in community mental health care. Numerous reports including the Mental Health Commission’s mental health strategy have called on provinces to raise the mental health share of health spending to 9% from 7% and increase social spending by 2% to provide housing for the estimated 520,000 people who are living with mental illness and are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

It is time to reconsider establishing the $5.3 billion mental health transition fund recommended by Michael Kirby and Wilbert Keon in the 2006 Senate Report – Out of the Shadows at Last. Without this, services for people living with mental illness will continue to be starved for resources and be overshadowed by other areas of health care spending.

Steve Lurie

Executive Director, CMHA Toronto Branch

To read the article, click Here

 

September 4, 2014 Steve Lurie's letter to the Toronto Star, published Sept 3, 2014, in response to the article, "Social groups applaud plan to end homelessness in Ontario, but urge deadline "

matthews_jpg_size_xxlarge_promoMinister Matthews’ announcement today about funding 1,000 supportive housing units for people living with mental illness in Ontario is welcome news. Unfortunately it will not end homelessness here in Toronto where the wait list now numbers 8,000. Each month 400 people apply for supportive housing and only 100 can be housed. The wait list will continue to grow. There are 40,000 people living with mental illness in Ontario who are homeless and 117,000 are vulnerably housed. We hope that the government responds favorably to the proposal received from Addictions and Mental Health Ontario to develop 28,000 supportive housing units over a six year period in the next budget. Evidence from the Mental Health Commission At Home Chez Soi project shows that for every $2 invested in housing for a high need individual, $3 are saved. Now is the time to invest.

To read the article click Here