NIAGARA FALLS, ON– In the keynote address to the pre-conference of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) today, Liberal Leader Bob Rae called on the federal government to stop stalling and take immediate action on mental health.
“Mental illness affects 1 in 5 Canadians and costs our economy over $50 billion a year, in addition to the immeasurable cost to families and society in terms of lost human potential, and yet the federal government has done little of substance to address this mounting crisis,” said Mr. Rae. “The solutions are no secret. The Mental Health Strategy for Canada and CASP’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy contain the roadmap to deal effectively with mental health problems and illness, and still this Conservative government has failed to follow through. They haven’t even implemented the Liberal Opposition Day motion for a National Suicide Prevention Strategy, which they themselves supported.”
Mr. Rae went on to say that the federal government has the opportunity to lead by example by improving its own capacity to develop and deliver the highest quality, appropriate mental health services and supports in areas for which it has direct responsibility, including for Aboriginal Peoples, Canadian Forces members, veterans, the RCMP and inmates in our correctional system. Unfortunately, despite being the fifth largest provider of health care in the country, populations under federal jurisdiction suffer from some of the worst mental health outcomes.
“We need federal leadership on mental health, and on health care in general, not just in terms of funding but also in terms of innovation and change,” said Mr. Rae. “Canada simply cannot afford to wait any longer. The time to act is now.”