Ontarians Believe No Child Should Wait More Than 48 Hours for Mental Health Care

Toronto, ON, February 19, 2020:  

New poll by Ipsos and Children’s Mental Health Ontario reveals sharp contrast to the reality of 28,000 kids waiting up to 2.5 years

A month after the release of the Kids Can’t Wait Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) Report which revealed that an astonishing 28,000 kids are waiting for mental health care and inequities in service availability and access persist, CMHO has released a new poll from Queen’s Park today showing that Ontarians believe that children and youth should only have to wait up to two days, or not wait at all, to receive the mental health care they require. This is in sharp contrast to the reality facing Ontario families, many of whom wait up to 2.5 years for child and youth mental health services while others have no access at all to some services where they live.

When asked which child and youth mental health care issues should be addressed by the Ontario government:

  • Nearly half (46%) want the government to reduce wait times and provide caregivers, parents and families with more supports.
  • 81% agree that the Ontario government should extend the age eligibility for youth to receive publicly provided services at Child and Youth Mental Health Centres from 18 to 25.

Currently, funding to support access to youth mental health care ends at age 18; but early intervention that is sustained until age 25 has been proven clinically to be most effective in treating child and youth mental health issues. CMHO’s 2020 pre-budget submission recommends this change to improve child and youth mental health care outcomes in Ontario.

The poll conducted in January by Ipsos on behalf of Children’s Mental Health Ontario also reveals that four in ten (40%) Ontarians report that mental health, either for adults and/or children and youth is important for the Ontario government to focus its efforts on mental health, on par with reducing wait times in hospital ERs; it is the most important healthcare system issue for those living in rural communities and those aged 40 and under. However, once presented with information about the wait times and waitlists experienced by children and youth for mental health services, the majority of Ontarians (75%) say they would increase the level of priority they place on mental health.

Other Key Findings:

  • Ontarians recognize shortfalls within their healthcare system and its ability to provide mental health services in a timely and adequate fashion, with half indicating that wait-times to receive these services are poor.
  • Those living in rural Ontario provide a directionally lower rating of wait times for both adults (69% poor/very poor vs. 47% in urban Ontario) and children/youth (52% poor/very poor vs. 45% in urban Ontario).
  • The majority of parents seeking mental health services for their child (63%) or young adults between age 18 and 25 seeking help for themselves (55%) know where to get help.


“We are running out of time, and a whole generation is at risk. It has been a year since I last provided pre-budget recommendations – some of the 28,000 children on wait lists for treatment, are still on the same wait list. In fact, from the time that this government knocked on doors across their constituency where you heard mental health and addictions was critical to families, some of those kids are still waiting. Ontarian’s agree that kids can’t wait any longer. Increase the investments in child and youth mental health now.” —  Kim Moran, CEO Children’s Mental Health Ontario

“Children and youth need help. They shouldn’t have to wait. The child and youth mental health system fails to recognize that just because I am coping, doesn’t mean that I am not struggling. If there are additional services to meet what I need, I don’t know how to access them. I’ve been accessing mental health services for nine years and the only services I know how to get require me to be in crisis – which I often am not.” – Victoria Corbett, Youth and Committee member of the Youth Action Committee of The New Mentality

“Ontario’s child and youth mental health system is at a boiling point and our youth are frustrated. Youth work incredibly hard with their peers across the province to find ways that work for them to improve the child and youth mental health system in Ontario. They create youth-led policy and have shared ideas with government, but no action is taken. We need the Government of Ontario to step up and listen to our young people. A properly funded mental health system is needed now.”  Mary-Anne Leahy, Program Manager, The New Mentality (Children’s Mental Health Ontario)


Poll methodology: For the poll a sample of 802 residents of Ontario was surveyed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel from January 22nd to January 24th, 2020.  Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Ontario population according to census information.

The precision of online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case the results are considered accurate to within +/- 3.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had all Ontario adults been surveyed. The credibility interval will be wider for subsets of the population.

For more information, please contact:

Kathleen Powderley, 416-803-5597, kathleen@responsiblecomm.ca


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