St. Thomas – Today, Ontario PC Health Critic Jeff Yurek (Elgin-Middlesex-London)
called on the government to take immediate action to properly fund children and
youth mental health services.
Yurek received a joint letter from community-based agencies providing infant, children
and youth mental health services in the London and Middlesex area. The message in
the letter is clear: they currently find themselves at monthly board meetings struggling
to find ways to pay staff, pay bills and service the children and families that
rely on them.
"For over 11 years this government knowingly ignored the situation and neglected
to properly address the strain put on these agencies through inadequate funding,"
stated Yurek. "If the agencies further reduce services or cut staff they will no
longer be able to adequately serve children and youth in London and Middlesex. The
system is in crisis." Yurek continued.
In a recent report, the Auditor General expressed grave concerns with current wait
times children and youth are facing when seeking out mental health services. The
report indicated a London agency had a staggering wait period of 224 days for counselling
and therapy services, and 226 days for intensive treatment services. A severe lack
of resources has made this the norm in Ontario.
"This is completely unacceptable. If my child broke their leg they would get immediate
access to medical services and be home in a cast, ready to heal by the end of the
day. But, if my child is experiencing mental health issues we could be waiting up
to 18 months for access to help." continued Yurek.
It's because of these wait times child and youth emergency department visits and
inpatient hospitalizations for mental disorders have risen by 63 and 67% over the
last decade in Ontario, even as hospitalizations for other reasons among children
and youth have fallen by 18% over this time frame.
"We're now in a situation where parents and agencies are afraid to even speak out
due to fear that the government could reduce funding even further. This is unacceptable,"
said Yurek. "The dedicated staff at the mental health agencies in London and across
the province work tirelessly to provide care to children in need. It's time for
the government to stop ignoring the crisis and take immediate steps to fix this
broken system." concluded Yurek.