TORONTO – Ontario’s New Democrats want to set up a standalone ministry to bolster the province’s mental heath and addictions services.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath says her party has proposed a private member’s bill that would the create the new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions if adopted by the legislature.
The new ministry would be charged with cutting wait lists and streamlining services across the province.
Horwath says the government has not taken action on recommendations made in 2010 by an all-party select committee that investigated the issue.
At the time, that committee’s top recommendation was the establishment of set an umbrella organization to deal with mental health and addictions issue similar to Cancer Care Ontario.
NDP health critic France Gelinas says mental health and addictions services in Ontario are currently spread across 11 ministries.
In June, British Columbia’s newly-elected NDP government announced it would create its own standalone ministry to tackle the addictions crisis in that province.
Horwath and Gelinas were joined at their news conference by 17-year-old Noah Irvine of Guelph, Ont.
Irvine knows the toll mental illness and addiction can take, having lost his mother to suicide and his father to a drug overdose during his childhood.
Those tragedies led him to write letters to the almost 340 sitting MPs in Ottawa six months ago. So far, he says he’s received 55 responses.
“I commend this bill,” Irvine said about the NDP’s proposal.
“It doesn’t hold one political agenda. It should be supported by all parties. If all parties care and want to do more, this bill should be a very easy bill to accept and understand where it’s coming from.”
“I urge the legislature to vote for it because I believe it will save thousands of lives in this province.”
Irvine told Global News he has a meeting scheduled with the new federal Minister of Health, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, next week.
With files from Mark Carcasole
© 2017 The Canadian Press