May 1, 2023 (TORONTO, ON) – Children’s Mental Health Ontario welcomes Minister Lecce’s attention to child and youth mental health care. Today’s announcement about enhancing the mental health curriculum and increasing mental health services in schools is important and needed to support the mental health of kids, but we remain concerned about the health human resource crisis which is significantly impacting the mental health care sector and access to child and youth mental health services in Ontario.
School mental health treatment staff, hospital mental health clinical workers and private sector wages are significantly higher than those working in the community mental health care agencies, and as currently structured, has the unfortunate consequence of drawing staff away from publicly funded child and youth mental health care centres. CMHO continues to be concerned about mental health care staff shortages, disruptions in care for children and youth, and longer wait times.
Schools are an important setting to provide access to mental health supports but it is critical that mental health services for children and youth also be supported appropriately across the full system of care and a provincial mental health care workforce strategy be developed.
The current average estimate of the wage discrepancy reported between community-based child and youth mental health agencies and other child and youth (private, hospitals, schools) sectors for direct service clinical positions ranged from 19 per cent to 34 per cent.
We look forward to working with our mental health care partners and the Ontario government to address the current wage disparities which will result in maximizing access to mental health services, support mental health workers to be compensated fairly and improve health outcomes for Ontario’s children and youth.