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Transforming Mental Health and addictions care will need bold investment

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BC budget 2020

Transforming Mental Health and addictions care will need bold investment

Vancouver, B.C. (February 19, 2020) – The announcement of continued investments in poverty reduction, supported housing, and child care in Budget 2020 is important in the Province’s efforts to increase equitable access to everyone’s best possible mental health, says the Province’s largest mental health non-profit, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). 

Jonny Morris, Chief Executive of CMHA’s BC Division, said: “Income inequality, employment barriers for people living with mental illness, and homelessness are terribly damaging to mental health. These budget measures are welcome, significant, and will make a difference over people’s lifetimes. For example, increasing earning exemptions helps people with mental health problems earn more and stay in work.” 

“However, given the Province’s vision for transforming mental health and addictions care laid out in A Pathway to Hope released last June, the time for bold and sustained investment is now.” 

The Province’s planned and modest increases to mental health and substance use funding for children, youth and young adults were committed to in Budget 2019. The previous year’s budget earmarked $74 million over three years, with $18 million in 2019-2020, $26 million in 2020- 2021, and $30 million in 2021-2022. 

“In our Budget 2020 submission, we encouraged the Province to increase and protect funding for mental health and substance use services to a minimum of 9% of overall healthcare spending. This would get us closer to the funding in other jurisdictions where mental health outcomes are improving. With Budget 2020/21 estimating almost $22 billion in annual health program spending for the Ministry of Health, our goal is a minimum of $2 billion targeted for mental health and addictions care, to accelerate the transformation promised in A Pathway to Hope. And according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 90% of Canadians back an increase in funding.” 

“The $74 million committed in Budget 2019 should be seen as a down-payment on what needs to be much bolder investing in mental health and addictions care in the future. A commitment to allocate a minimum 9% of the overall healthcare spend to mental health and addictions would help reverse decades of under-funding and help more British Columbians get the right help and support at the right time.” 

“Without a new commitment to targeted funding for early intervention and a truly comprehensive system of services so people can get care before crisis, we will miss the opportunity to transform the system,” said Morris. “The time is now.”

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