FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 20, 2017
LIBERAL GOVERNMENT’S INACTION ON CHILDREN & YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH PUTS LOCAL AGENCIES AT RISK
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.
Whitney McWilliam | P: 226-448-6741 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org