Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance 2022 Pre-budget Consultation Process
The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) is the national voice for mental health in Canada. Established in 1988, CAMIMH is a member-driven alliance of 15 mental health groups comprised of health care providers and not-for-profit organizations that represent people with lived or living experience, their families and caregivers.
From out of the shadows
and into the light..
Well before the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the lack of timely access to inclusive and accessible mental health and substance use health care has been a longstanding concern in Canada. Despite the urgent need, for many, it is not uncommon to experience wait times of months or years to see a mental health care provider or enter a treatment program.
With the impact of the global pandemic, how will our health care systems be able to respond to a growing number of people in Canada who are, or will, experience COVID-19-related mental health and substance use health issues and need care over the short-, medium- and/or longer-term?
The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) strongly believes that mental health must be our first wealth. Canada must do more to protect and invest in its most valuable assets: people. As much as our health care systems focus on our physical health, there can be no health without our mental health.
Each year, CAMIIMH submits a Brief as part of the federal government’s pre-budget consultation process. Also, it may submit Briefs to the government in response to other mental health issues that are of concern/interest to CAMIMH.
In August 2020 CAMIMH submitted these recommendations to the federal government in its Pre-Budget Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance.
CAMIMH releases reports that have focused on the role of the federal government in supporting timely access to mental health services and supports, and the need to increase investments in mental health research.
Mental Health Action Plan: Better access and system performance for mental health services in Canada
The CAMIMH membership, which comprises of 15 mental health associations, has worked together to produce CAMIMH’s Mental Health Action Plan. This document outlines CAMIMH’s six recommendations to the federal government on how to provide Canadians with better access to the mental health services and supports they need, including the recommendation that a new Mental Health Parity Act be introduced.
That the federal government, working in partnership with provincial and territorial governments, CAMIMH and others, fund and implement sustainable evidence-based mental health services and supports to respond to the increased demand for mental health care resulting from COVID-19.
That the federal government enshrine national standards for access to mental health services through an amended Canada Health Act or the introduction of a new Mental Health Parity Act.
That the federal government increase its cash contribution to the provinces and territories by a minimum of $277.5 million a year to improve timely access to mental health services.
That the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) have adequate resources to work collaboratively with the provinces and territories, and other stakeholders, to develop an up-to-date national public and private health expenditure series in mental health.
That the federal government implement a national universal pharmacare program while maintaining access to mental
health and psychological treatments via employer provided supplementary health benefit programs.
That the federal government provide long-term funding to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to ensure mental health research funding across its Institutes and its four pillars that is proportionate to mental health’s burden of disease.
Mental Health Now!
In 2016, CAMIMH released Mental Health Now!, a seminal document was a powerful call to action for all governments in lead up to the 2017 bi-lateral health accords that were signed by the federal, and provincial and territorial governments, and contained a five-point action plan.
CAMIMH’s recommendations are based on the following five pillars, which represent a bold agenda for mental health policy in Canada:
Ensure sustainable funding for access to mental health services by increasing the federal share of mental health spending to 25 percent of the total, which would result in $777.5 million more in additional annual federal direct funding support for mental health services.
Accelerate the adoption of proven and promising mental health innovations with a five-year $100 million Mental Health Innovation Fund.
Measure, manage and monitor the mental health system’s performance by establishing pan-Canadian mental health indicators.
Establish an expert advisory panel on mental health.
Invest in social infrastructure.