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Justin Trudeau promises more support for mental health on its way

WATCH ABOVE: In the wake of the Abbotsford school stabbing and its mental health aspects, Global News asked the Prime Minister if Ottawa is going to take action. Aaron McArthur reports.

While speaking in the province of B.C. on Monday, Prime Minister Trudeau promised the federal government would do more to ease a mental health crisis in B.C. and across Canada.

The issue of mental illness has sparked up after the death of 13-year-old Letisha Reimer, who was allegedly stabbed in her Abbotsford high school last week by Gabriel Klein.

READ MORE: Did the Abbotsford stabbing suspect fall through the cracks of our mental health system?

Trudeau acknowledged it is time for Canada to step up and address the issue that affects so many Canadians.

“There is no Canadian who doesn’t have a friend or family member affected by mental health,” Trudeau said. “We know the challenge it poses to our communities, our families, to our economy. It is long past time Canada stepped up, in terms of mental health, in terms of fighting addiction, in terms of working to heal the ills that aren’t always visible to the naked eye.”

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While mental illness may not be an issue many Canadians can see with their own eyes, its prevalence is undeniable.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health says one in five Canadians will experience a mental health or addiction problem in their lifetime. Furthermore, people with a mental health disorder are twice as likely to have a substance abuse problem than those without.

Yet funding by provinces and territories is on average only seven per cent of all health-related spending, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

In B.C., that amounted to $945 million in 2013/2014 for mental illness and addictions, as noted by a 2016 report from the auditor general.

“It is something that I have had many long conversations with our Minister of Health Jane Philpott on, and one in which we are of one mind. Canada needs to work with provinces to do more on mental health, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” he continued.

“Health ministers are in discussions on the future of health accords in Canada and how we’re going to make sure that we’re responding to the needs of Canadians, but quite frankly, it is time that the federal government be a supportive and active partner respecting the province’s jurisdiction in delivery of health care. But the federal government can and must do more, and I look forward to doing more.”

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The issue of mental health isn’t foreign to Trudeau. His mother, Margaret, ex-wife of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has spoken publicly about her battle with bipolar disorder.

“I wouldn’t be my mother’s son if I wasn’t a strong advocate for mental-health and de-stigmatization of mental health,” he said back in April.

WATCH BELOW: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answers Global News reporter Aaron McArthur’s question about how the federal government plans to help B.C.’s growing mental health care crisis.

‘The federal government can and must do more;’ Trudeau on mental health care crisis
‘The federal government can and must do more;’ Trudeau on mental health care crisis

Read Trudeau’s full statement on mental health below:

“There is no Canadian who doesn’t have a friend or family member affected by mental health. We know the challenge it poses to our communities, our families, to our economy. It is long past time Canada stepped up, in terms of mental health, in terms of fighting addiction, in terms of working to heal the ills that aren’t always visible to the naked eye. It is something that I have had many long conversations with our Minister of Health Jane Philpott on, and one in which in we are of one mind. Canada needs to work with provinces to do more on mental health, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Health ministers are in discussions on the future of health accords in Canada and how we’re going to make sure that we’re responding to the needs of Canadians, but quite frankly, it is time that the federal government be a supportive and active partner respecting the province’s jurisdiction in delivery of health care. But the federal government can and must do more, and I look forward to doing more.”

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