We urge you to email the Premier of Ontario, Hon. Kathleen Wynne and copy Minister Deb Matthews (Deputy Premier), Minister Michael Coteau (Children and Youth Services), Minister Eric Hoskins (Health and Long-term Care), and Minister Charles Sousa (Finance). This template can serve as a starting point for your letter – you are encouraged to make whatever changes necessary to reflect your own situation. The more personal experiences and thoughts you can include, the more impactful your letter will be.
Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Dear Premier Wynne,
As a parent (sibling, mental health professional) who has supported a young person struggling with their mental health, I am writing to express my deep concerns about the government’s lack of attention on child and youth mental health. It is clear that the continued underfunding of children’s mental health is having a devastating impact on children, youth and families in Ontario. Children are waiting too long for treatment, and too many children are suffering, and worse, too many are dying.
As you know, as many as one in five children and youth in Ontario will experience some form of mental health problem. But five out of six of those kids will not receive the treatment they need.
Children and youth in urgent need of mental health care are waiting up to 1.5 years for treatment in some parts of the province, according to new data collected by Children’s Mental Health Ontario. The number of children and youth on wait lists for Children’s Mental Health Ontario Centres is also on the rise with nearly 12,000 kids waiting for therapy or intensive treatment. These children and youth are waiting to get the help they need and deserve because Ontario has not allocated sufficient resources to meet the needs of the growing number of children and youth seeking treatment for mental illness in the community-based sector. Some families must even seek care in specialized U.S. treatment centres – at great cost to the province.
This is a major health issue that must be addressed.
New funding for structured psychotherapy was announced by Minister Hoskins in February, but there is no commitment by the government to provide this funding to children and youth delivered near their homes to help to alleviate wait times of up to 1.5 years. And while the announcement of expansion of up to nine Youth Wellness Hubs will provide access points with more integration to services, in the absence of new funding, children and youth requiring more intensive treatment who are referred from a hub to a mental health centre will continue to wait months for treatment. And, sadly, some of these youth will die by suicide while they wait.
The case for investment in children’s mental health has been demonstrated very clearly as the lifetime savings for each youth has been estimated by the Mental Health Commission of Canada as $140,000 per child.
The current system is failing to provide children and youth with the right kind of care at the right time in the right place. Since 2006-07, hospital emergency department admissions for children and youth with mental illness have increased by 54%, while in-patient admissions have increased by a startling 60%.
Premier Wynne, as we enter the 2017-18 budget cycle, I urgently ask that you commit to improving mental health outcomes for Ontario’s children and youth by making immediate strategic investments in community-based children’s mental health centres to ensure that all children and youth in the province have access to appropriate mental health treatment within 30 days or less. The health of our children and youth depends on it.
Deputy Premier, Hon. Deb Matthews, email@example.com