QUEEN’S PARK – NDP MPP Bhutila Karpoche re-tabled her bill on Thursday to cap growing wait times for children and youth mental health and addictions services in the face of increased mental health challenges seen throughout the pandemic:
“Mental health experts warned us two years ago that 28,000 children and youth in this province were facing wait times of up to two-and-a-half years for life-saving mental health and addictions services—an especially alarming figure given that research shows early intervention gives young people a far better chance at a healthy life,” Karpoche said.
Karpoches’s Right to Timely Mental Health and Addiction Care for Children and Youth Act would cap wait times at 30 days for children and youth up to age 26. Karpoche tabled the bill in the previous legislative session, with all parties voting in favour, but the Ford government let it expire without passing it.
“Over the pandemic, the need has become even more urgent, yet the Ford government has neglected to improve wait times for desperately-needed mental health and addictions services for children and youth,” Karpoche said.
The 2021 Vital Signs Report cited survey results showing 16 per cent of youth aged 18 to 24 in the Greater Toronto Area had thought about suicide sometime in the last three months.
“The Liberals underfunded children and youth mental health and addictions services for years, resulting in ballooning wait times, and waits have reached an all-time high under Doug Ford, with children and youth in rural and remote northern communities seeing a dearth of services altogether. Young people deserve to be able to access the services they need when and where they need it.”