The province is less than 40 days away from electing its next government and a new campaign from CMHA branches in Ontario is encouraging voters to put one topic at the top of their election wish list: mental health and addictions care.
CMHA’s “I choose” campaign will be using the next six weeks to spotlight different issues for the community mental health and addictions system that are having an impact on how people access care in this province.
To kickstart the campaign, the campaign is urging voters to think about how their care may be impacted by an overburdened and burned-out front line mental health and addictions workforce.
“Like nurses, personal support workers and long-term care staff, employees at CMHA and other community mental health and addictions agencies have been hit hard by the pandemic,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario. “The situation is dire as our workers are exhausted and stressed out.”
The provision of care has become significantly more challenging over the last two years. The pandemic has disproportionately impacted those living with a mental illness or an addictions issue and forced staff to find new and innovative ways to serve clients.
CMHA Ontario points to years of chronic underfunding of the community mental health and addictions system as the main contributor to key issues like staff retention, growing wait lists and severe shortage of supportive housing.
For example, since 2016 the government has provided $132 billion for the acute care sector versus $7 billion for community mental health and addictions.
Here are examples of what is happening at some CMHA branches because of a lack of provincial base operational funding:
• 66 per cent of resignations over the last two years have been salary-based
• CMHA registered nurses make 33 per cent less than registered nurses at other health care providers
• Roles change from provincially regulated professions (i.e. social workers, nurses, occupational therapists) to unregulated roles to find financial efficiencies and draw on a greater pool of candidates
• Positions go unfilled because there’s not enough funding; candidates are offered jobs but refuse due to low salary
CMHA Toronto urges the public to vote for the party that will invest significantly in the community mental health and addictions system. For more information about this issue and the “I choose” campaign, visit www.ichoosemha.ca or follow #ichoosemha on social media.