In this 2009 submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, the Canadian Mental Health Association advocates that income support and other measures to prevent and reduce poverty can play several roles with regard to mental illness and mental health. We have attempted to mainstream our advocacy to cover three areas of importance to the planning and configuring of the upcoming federal budget. These areas cover modifications to the National Child Benefit Supplement, Canada Social Transfer, and development of Basic Income Support Programs for persons living with mental illness and other disabilities. We believe that our recommendations are realistic and realizable, and that they have the potential to promote mental health and wellness, and optimize psychological, social, civic, and economic functioning.
The implementation of Medicare in the 1960s required a major investment in capacity-building to train health professionals. The Heath Resources Fund Act – introduced by the federal government in 1966 played a key role in enabling a significant expansion in training capacity across the provinces for a range of health practitioners. Over forty years later, with the challenges associated with an aging workforce and a higher volume and complexity of population health needs, the Health Action Lobby (HEAL) believes that bold action is once again required.
People living with mental illness are severely affected by social and economic inequality. Through no fault of their own they face extended and often lifetime unemployment, social exclusion, isolation, relationship distress, poor physical health and lack of hope for the future. In Canada, persons who suffer from mental illness constitute a disproportionate percentage of persons living below the poverty line, thus exacerbating problems associated with mental illness and contributing to stressors which cause poor mental health.
People living with disabilities have a right to participate fully and equally in Canadian society.
In Canada today, many people live with recurrent or episodic disabilities that are characterized by alternating periods of illness and wellness. As stated in the Government of Canada response to the 2003 report Listening to Canadians: A First View of the Canada Pension Plan Disability Program: “recurrent and episodic disabilities are becoming more prevalent in Canadian society.”
There are many systemic and practical barriers which prevent people with episodic disabilities from participating in the labour force, in communities, and in society in a meaningful way.
In its pre-budget consultations for the fall of 2005, the Standing Committee of Finance indicated an interest in receiving input on how improvements to Canada’s productivity performance contributes to the economic growth of the nation. In this submission, the Canadian Mental Health Association challenged the committee to look outside of the traditional business/economic model of small, medium and large businesses to consider whether Canada is making the most out of the potential of all its citizens.
In this 2004 submission to the House of Commons Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Canadian Mental Health Association outlines specific technical recommendations surrounding Bill C-10 to ensure that the legislation will provide for appropriate safeguards to ensure that the balance between public interest and individual rights is achieved.
In this 2004 submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, the Canadian Mental Health Association outlines the need for a Pan-Canadian Strategy on Mental Illness and Mental Health under federal leadership.
The Canadian Mental Health Association recommends five broad areas on which the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology should move forward: developing and implementing a pan-Canadian national strategy on mental Illness/mental health; responding to the Premiers’ Council’s commitment to community mental health; ensuring that children and youth, aboriginals, women, and new immigrants are included in the national strategy; ensuring that suicide is addressed as part of the national strategy; and committing to increasing the capacity of the voluntary sector in the mental health community to participate in public policy development.
In this 2005 submission to the Senate Subcommittee on Population Health, the Canadian Mental Health Association contributed to their consideration of mental health issues by sharing findings on Canadians’ perspectives on the determinants of health, and discussing the implications of these findings in terms of federal government action on population health.