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Ottawa, ON, April 22, 2015 – The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is encouraged by yesterday’s federal budget, Economic Action Plan 2015, and the government’s efforts to improve the mental health of all Canadians.

The federal government has played a strong role in building a solid foundation for advancements in promoting positive mental health, preventing suicide and improving recovery from mental illness through, for example, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), and the creation in 2012 of the Canadian Depression Research and Implementation Network (CDRIN).

 

“With the renewal of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s mandate, starting in 2017-18, for an additional 10 years, the federal government continues to prioritize the mental health of Canadians,” says Peter Coleridge, National CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

“While we have made progress in changing the face of mental health and mental illness in Canada, we have significant work before us to ensure timely access to an effective range of mental health supports and services, and to eliminate the discrimination and stigma experienced by people with mental health and addiction problems”, adds Coleridge. “CMHA looks forward to working with the Commission and other stakeholders on the continued development of a Mental Health Action Plan for Canada, and to learning more about the Commission’s new direction from the Minister of Health in the months ahead.”

CMHA also remains hopeful that the Government of Canada will take further steps to see that those traditionally under-represented in the workforce, including people with disabilities, youth, and Aboriginal Canadians, find the job-training they need as announced in the Speech from the Throne on October 16, 2013.

Coleridge notes that “we must take concrete steps to reduce the nearly 90 per cent unemployment rate of Canadians who are affected by serious mental illness – a group that faces a more than 40 per cent higher rate of unemployment compared to other disability groups in Canada.”

All governments across Canada, including the federal government, are keenly aware of the need to reduce the burden (over $50 billion annually) of poor mental health to the Canadian economy. The federal government should work with the provincial governments to prevent Canadians from becoming ill in the first place.

CMHA is also pleased to see in this budget the introduction of a new tax-free Family Caregiver Relief Benefit for informal caregivers who attend to the health and well-being of veterans.

“Providing for the temporary relief from the physical and emotional demands of caring for a loved-one is crucial to the health of the caregiver and the family member being cared for,” adds Coleridge. “We hope that the leadership taken by the federal government, as well as recent examples introduced in other countries, inspires provincial governments to recognize the importance of improving the health outcomes of all Canadians who care for a person affected by a debilitating or disabling physical or mental health condition.”

CMHA is equally pleased to see ongoing funding of $2 million per year announced for specialized mental health teams in First Nations communities.

Finally, CMHA applauds the concrete measures adopted in yesterday’s federal budget for seniors.

“We have long known that the proportion of our senior population is growing. While the Mental Health Strategy for Canada takes into consideration the needs of different populations, governments must start to take concrete actions today to address the needs of seniors,” says Coleridge. “We hope that the investment of $42 million over five years for the establishment of the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation will draw on published research and the experience of a wide range of stakeholders to address the needs of Canadians as they age and the social realities and economic burden of the many thousands of informal caregivers.”

 

About the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)

Founded in 1918, The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is a national charity that helps maintain and improve mental health for all Canadians. As the nationwide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA helps people access the community resources they need to build resilience and support recovery from mental illness.

Visit the CMHA website at www.cmha.ca today.

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For more information or to book an interview, please contact:
Carolyn Lovas
Senior Communications and Media Advisor, CMHA National
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(416) 979-7948