The Greens outlined a plan Monday to break down barriers — including insufficient funding and erosion of universal care — they say prevent many people from getting the mental-health care they need.
Green Leader Elizabeth May took the message to Fredericton as part of a push for votes in Atlantic Canada, a region where the party hopes to make a breakthrough in the Oct. 21 election.
May attended a rally in the New Brunswick capital in support of Jenica Atwin, a researcher and program co-ordinator for a First Nations education organization.
The party wants to prioritize expansion of mental-health and rehabilitation services, reduce wait times for assistance programs and put more money into mental-health services in rural and remote areas.
WATCH: Elizabeth May makes campaign stop in Fredericton.
The Greens would also examine climate change-related mental illnesses caused by trauma from natural disasters and extreme weather and the resulting stressful displacement of families.
“Canadians are worried about the future of their country and the world,” May said in a statement. “It’s time to make mental health a primary health concern.”
The plan includes mobilizing mental-health organizations to prevent illness and suicide caused by anxieties stemming from societal problems such as social isolation and expensive housing.
The ability of provinces to deliver adequate levels of care through the Canada Health Act depends on funding transfers from Ottawa, the party says.
WATCH: Greens release full campaign platform
It argues these transfers have not kept pace with rapidly changing demographics and the emerging crises of mental illness and addiction. At the same time, the Greens say, private health clinics, including blood services, represent a creeping two-tiered system, eroding the universal primary model.
“Universal health care is under attack,” said May. “The Green party will fight for mental health care for all Canadians.”
The party would:
— treat the opioid crisis as a health-care issue rather than a criminal matter;
— create a national dementia strategy to fund research, though it is unclear how the plan would differ from the one introduced this year by the Liberal government;
— establish a new funding program within Health Canada for peer-led mental-health programs and counselling catering to people of different sexual and gender identities;
— ensure Indigenous Peoples receive the health care they require without bureaucratic delays and create Indigenous-led healing programs using traditional knowledge;
— and create a Guaranteed Livable Income program to ensure no one goes homeless while their mental illness is being treated.