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CMHA National Supports Senate Report on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness

December 9, 2009

Ottawa —Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), National supports several of the recommendations of “In From The Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness”, Report of the Subcommittee on Cities of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology tabled yesterday in Ottawa. “We are very pleased that the Senate Sub-Committee recognized CMHA’s contributions to the report”, says Dr. Taylor Alexander, CEO, CMHA National Office. “Income support and other measures to reduce poverty can play several roles with regard to those persons living with a disability associated with mental illness. Many of these measures were identified in the report.”

CMHA National believes that many of the report’s options apply to persons struggling with mental health issues, and recommended several that would benefit persons living with a mental illness. These include recommendations to extend Employment Insurance benefits to 50 weeks, as well as the institution of a national Pharmacare program which would ease the burden of cost for and access to psychoactive medication. Especially pertinent to persons with lived experience of mental illness who are not attached to the labour market are recommendations for the Federal Government to work with provinces to increase provincial assistance rates to after-tax LICO (low income cut-off) levels, as well as investigating opportunities for a basic annual income for Canadians with disabilities. The report also addresses barriers for persons with mental illness accessing disability supports, as well as the importance of a refundable disability tax credit.

CMHA National is pleased that the report also focuses on proactive policies, such as increasing the National Child Benefit to $5,000 by 2012. “Policies which focus on healthy children and healthy families yield life-long benefits in decreasing the incidence of mental illness and mental health problems,” says Ruth-Anne Craig, Executive Director of the Manitoba Division of CMHA. “We know that poverty is both a cause and result of mental illness, so we welcome preventative policies that can alleviate stressful situations that raise the potential for mental health problems for children and families, as well as for persons with other disability types.”

Canadian Mental Health Association is Canada’s only voluntary charitable organization that exists to promote the mental health of all people and support the resilience and recovery of persons experiencing mental illness. Because poverty affects so many persons living with mental illness, and is one of the causal factors that produce mental illness, income equity has become a primary advocacy issue for CMHA.

The “In From The Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness”, Report of the Subcommittee on Cities of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology can be accessed here.

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