Horwath: Niagara children face alarming wait times for mental health services

Ontario NDP Leader calling for a standalone Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions

Today, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath met with the Pathstone Mental Health team at the Branscombe Mental Health Centre in St. Catharines, and renewed her commitment fix Ontario’s fractured mental health system after hearing about alarmingly long wait times for children in need of mental health care.

“The administrators and staff I met with today see too many people requiring urgent mental health services left languishing on waiting lists,” said Horwath. “Niagara families feel abandoned by a government that forces their kids to wait nearly a year for the services they need to thrive. And Pathstone staff are run off their feet as they cope with a Liberal government that hasn’t increased their base funding in a decade, even as needs continue to rise.”

Horwath toured the Branscombe Mental Health Centre before sitting down with Pathstone Mental Health staff and administration earlier today.

“Mental health services in the Niagara region need more resources, more funding and more attention,” said Horwath. “New Democrats are ready to deliver by making mental health and addiction services a real priority. We are committed to creating a standalone Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction services.”

In 2010, the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions recommended the creation of Mental Health and Addictions Ontario, but seven years later these services remain scattered across 11 different Ministries. Last month, an NDP bill to create a standalone Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions passed a crucial vote in the legislative assembly, despite opposition from the governing Wynne Liberals. The NDP Bill lays out 13 duties and functions of the new Ministry, including building a co-ordinated mental health and addictions system and eliminating wait lists for services.

“Niagara children with mental health needs cannot continue to be treated as an afterthought,” said Horwath. “It’s time to give them the care they need, without the wait.”