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Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker called on the province to provide adequate funding for mental health in light of reports that children and youth with mental illness are waiting months for help.

MPP Walker made his statement Thursday, a day after the province's Auditor General sounded alarm over the growing gap between what children and youth with mental illness need and what they actually receive in care and services. The auditor also said mental-health agencies have been overwhelmed by a 50 per cent spike in hospitalization cases and the government has not taken steps to address it.

MPP Walker said the same troubling trend is seen right here in Bruce and Grey.

"The lack of available psychiatrists, mental health beds and other mental health resources is beginning to take its toll on my local hospital emergency departments, which are increasingly dealing with suicidal youth and people suffering from schizophrenia," he said.

"Instead of matching patients with beds, hospital staff are now calling in police officers to guard patients as beds remain scarce."

The complete transcript of his statement is below.

 

Mr. Bill Walker: I rise today to voice my constituents' growing concern over the continued lack of access to mental health services in Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, an issue that I am personally passionate about.

The lack of available psychiatrists, mental health beds and other mental health resources is beginning to take its toll on my local hospital emergency departments, which are increasingly dealing with suicidal youth and people suffering from schizophrenia. Instead of matching patients with beds, emergency department staff are calling in police officers, at a very great cost, to guard these patients who continue to wait for beds.

If you can imagine, this is an impossible task, with so few beds in Ontario, and we still have regions without any youth mental health beds, such as the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN.

I recently listened to comments from Dr. Susan Boron from Hanover and District Hospital, who spoke very candidly and openly about the consequences of the long-standing problem with the shortage of beds, psychiatrists and outreach that is putting the safety of patients and staff in dire straits. Dr. Boron called it a crisis and warned that it could easily turn into a publicity nightmare for the province.

This warning was echoed by the Auditor General, whose report, released yesterday, confirmed a 50% increase in the number of youth and children needing a mental health bed.

As Ontario continues to go without a coherent mental health system and where care continues to be scattered over multiple ministries and agencies, I take this opportunity to issue another call on the government to immediately direct resources to my communities in Bruce and Grey and all communities across Ontario facing these huge gaps in service, so that our children and youth and people in need can get the mental health care services they need.

I also encourage all members to continue to speak up on these concerns to the Minister of Health and remind him that the time for action is now.

source: media release, MPP Bill Walker

 

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