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Ontario’s CMHAs call for significant funding increase to community mental health and addictions this Bell Let’s Talk Day

Canadian Mental Health Associations (CMHAs) across Ontario are calling on the province for a substantial, immediate and ongoing base funding increase for the community mental health and addictions sector on this Bell Let’s Talk Day.

This year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day is focused on committing to significant action to create positive change in mental health and addictions care. For Ontario’s CMHAs, a base budget increase from government is the meaningful action required right now to improve the community mental health and addictions sector.

“We need critical infrastructure investments to maintain the highest quality of care for the individuals we serve,” said CMHA Hamilton’s CEO, Sue Phipps. “But decades of underfunding and the increased need for service are having devastating impacts on how we can best support people in need.”

To meet the current and growing demand for community mental health and addictions services, each CMHA branch needs at least an eight per cent increase in base funding as an immediate emergency stabilization investment.

For all CMHAs across the province, an eight per cent increase is under $30 million. For the entire community mental health and addictions sector, this comes to $125 million.

A base budget increase will help CMHAs and other community-based providers address operating costs that increase annually, deliver more services, and reduce wait times while managing high rates of stress, burnout, recruitment and retention among staff.

Without a base budget increase to help shore up operations and cover operating costs that increase annually, CMHAs will have to keep making tough decisions on how to retain staff who are often underpaid, burned out and stressed while also providing much-needed services to the community.

“CMHAs reorganize resources and redeploy staff, but struggle to meet increased demand in service with our current budget allocations,” said Phipps. “We simply can’t do more, or provide even the same level of service, when we aren’t resourced properly.”

Fast facts:
• 66 per cent of resignations at CMHA Ontario branches over the last two years have been salary-based.
• 1 in 4 Ontarians have sought mental health support during the pandemic.
• Ontario’s 2020-21 health budget was $59.8 billion. Of that, $1.56 billion or less than three percent was allocated to community-based mental health and addictions care.

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