The public record shows Doug Ford has made life much harder for Ontarians with mental health challenges
Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day, the day telecommunications giant Bell Canada sets aside a five cent donation to mental health groups for each tweet mentioning the company’s initiative.
Although Canada has a universal public health care system, Canada does not cover illnesses of the mind in the same way that it covers illnesses of the body.
Some groups, like the Canadian Mental Health Association, question if Canada can truly say it has a “universal health care system” given this discriminatory double-standard that creates a need for initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk Day in the first place.
One person who started tweeting about Bell Let’s Talk day early this morning is Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who tweeted that “mental health a priority,” vowing that “every Ontarian will have the opportunity to be fully supported on their journey towards mental wellness” under his government.
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) January 29, 2020
However, Ford’s words on Bell Let’s Talk Day stand in stark contrast with his government’s actions.
Here are a few things Ford has already cut or says he plans to cut that would make life harder for Ontarians facing mental health challenges.
Cutting $2.1 billion in planned spending on mental health support
One of the Ford government’s first moves after coming to power was to cut a planned increase in mental health funding, reducing funding for mental health services from $525 million to $190 million — a reduction of $2.1 billion over four years.
Ford’s health minister, Christine Elliot, defended the cut by claiming the previously planned spending was never a “solid” promise.
Although Ford’s government would re-announce bits and pieces of the previous government’s mental health strategy, critics noted the cut itself was not reversed.
Allowing the child and youth mental health waitlist to double
In just two years, Children’s Mental Health Ontario found Ontario’s waitlist for child and youth mental health support has more than doubled.
According to CBC News, 28,000 children and youth are currently on wait lists for treatment across the province — up from roughly 12,000 in 2017 owing in part to “chronic underfunding.”
Trying to cut $222 million from disability support
As PressProgress reported previously, the Ontario government’s budget estimates revealed plans to quietly shave $222 million from expenditure on Ontario Disability Support Financial Assistance, a program that supports many Ontarians with mental health disabilities.
While the government eventually walked back moves to raise the amount it claws back from recipients with some work income to 75% — a move service providers widely panned as likely to make people homeless — it did not reverse this cut.
Still, on the on International Day For Persons with Disabilities, Social Services Minister Todd Smith said: “We all want to do better for people with disabilities.”
The minister stressed that he takes strong offence to suggestions his government is indifferent to the challenges faced by those harmed by his government’s cuts.