London party

At campaign-style shutdown, NDP’s Andrea Horwath details mental health plan

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ST. THOMAS – Fresh off the unveiling of her party’s platform for the June election in Ontario, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath outlined her plan for universal mental health care at a campaign-style stage here on Tuesday .

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Horwath, along with Elgin-Middlesex-London NDP candidate Andy Kroeker, has pledged to inject $1.15 billion a year into mental health supports “to fix the system”.

“It’s a crisis. (The system) has been broken for a long time and people are suffering,” Horwath said. She said the money would replace funds taken out of the system by the Ford government.

The NDP would create Mental Health Ontario to expand access to counseling and therapy by including six initial treatment sessions through OHIP, increasing to 12 sessions for patients who need more time. The plan also includes an 8% increase in funding for the Canadian Mental Health Association – a $24 million increase – and 30,000 additional supportive housing units over 10 years.

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“People in Ontario don’t have access to the mental health services we need and deserve,” said Horwath. “It takes a heavy toll on ordinary families. Mental health services are as important as other health services.

More than 28,000 children and young people are currently waiting for mental health treatment, more than double the 12,000 on the waiting list in 2017, she said. Children who need help wait up to 2.5 years, while young people wait 400 days and adults 500, she added.

Nearly 3,000 people accessed CMHA’s Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Center in Elgin-Middlesex between June 2020 and June 2021, she said. Half of them were accessing this type of support for the first time.

“It’s pretty serious,” Horwath said.

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One organization trying to fill the mental health service gap is The Nameless, a St. Thomas volunteer group that helps people living with complex mental health conditions and addictions but without stable housing.

“We’re trying to help people bridge the waitlist gap and see them for who they are, not their current crisis,” said its founder, Leticia. mizon. “Often we act as their only supporters because other supporters in the city cannot meet their needs”

mizon, who also works at a homeless shelter in London, said she was suffering from ‘frontline burnout’ and was on a waiting list for mental health support.

“I can’t imagine the amount of stress, anxiety and despair that people (without financial means) experience when myself. . . I still struggle to fund my own well-being,” she said.

Elgin-Middlesex-London has been provincially held by the Progressive Conservatives, but incumbent Conservative MP Jeff Yurek is not seeking a fourth term and has resigned from politics.

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