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May 3rd, 2010 - Day of Advocacy - Queen's Park

Over 100 supporters attended the Day of Advocacy at Queen's Park on May 3rd, 2010, with great success.

PCMH Team Members spent the day meeting with over 30 MPPs, and members also were present in the House for the Reading of the Private Member's Bill by Andrea Howarth to have May 7th declared Child and Youth Mental Health Awareness Day in Ontario.

Minister Laurel Broten also made an announcement in the House that the Ministry of Child and Youth Services is moving to support PCMH and Kinark with funding for the Parent Navigator Program which has been proposed to the MCYS.

This is a great success for PCMH and Parents across the Province to legitamize the imporant role families must play at all levels.  Involving families as equal partners in treatment planning, legislative and program planning is a critical component to positive outcomes for our children and youth suffering from mental illness.

Thank you to all of our supporters!

Please take a moment to review here the evidence of our success, view the pictures, the youtube videos of the speeches made on the lawn of Queen's Park, and the Hansard transcripts where your support and voice helped bring Children's Mental Health issues to the Floor of Queen's Park!


Hansard Transcripts - May 3, 2010 - Parents for Children's Mental Health brings child and youth mental health issues to the Legislature


Mrs. Liz Sandals: My question is for the Minister of Children and Youth Services. As you know, this week is Children's Mental Health Week in Ontario. One in five children between the ages of 13 and 17 faces mental health challenges, which can have devastating effects on children and their families. I know from my work on safe schools tha,t left untreated, mental health issues can become very serious and can lead to bullying, dropping out of school, and tragically, even to suicide.

I know that the government is committed to connecting Ontarians of all ages with needed mental health programs. It's a difficult task that this government has been working to achieve since our election in 2003. But I still hear from families about their ongoing challenges in accessing services. So as we begin Children's Mental Health Week, can the minister tell the House about the government's efforts to support-

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Minister?

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: I want to thank the member for her advocacy on this issue and her commitment to her community on this issue in particular.

She's quite right that a number of steps have been taken since we came to office in 2003, and that is because, under two previous governments, there were no increases to children's mental health from 1992 until 2003. That's why since 2004, we've invested an additional $64 million to support and expand children's mental health services. We've created the Provincial Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health to promote research and to improve quality. We've expanded and funded the Ontario child and youth telepsychiatry program. Very recently, we've started our work with parents for children's mental health: to develop better ways for parents to navigate the system and help their children and to support parents in the journey that they follow along with their children.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mrs. Liz Sandals: These investments and improvements to service are very important; Trellis Mental Health and Developmental Services in Guelph was thrilled to get access to telepsychiatry for children and youth. But what matters most to families is that these programs are working and helping their children. We've heard frequently at the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions that there is a stigma that keeps people from talking about mental health in the way that they speak about other health issues. Part of that stigma comes from the fear that mental health cannot be properly treated.

Can the minister tell the House about some of the successful programs that we do have for children and youth with mental health issues?

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: I do want to thank the select committee for the important work that they're doing on behalf of the entire Legislature and the province of Ontario.

We do know that this week in particular, raising awareness with respect to children's mental health is critically important, and that is because there are many programs that can help kids turn their lives around. I have seen those programs firsthand. I was at the York Centre, where children and youth who could not function in a mainstream classroom were learning. I saw those kids stand up and give speeches and talk about how important and impactful the service and the help that they were getting was to build confidence and turn their lives around.

At Niagara Child and Youth Services, children are getting the services that they need to have the best practices for new service delivery models and ensuring that they're getting the help that they need.

Simon Davidson at the centre for excellence is driving innovation and more, in fact, of-

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: I want to acknowledge those who have joined us in the galleries today from Parents for Children's Mental Health and Children's Mental Health Ontario.


Ms. Horwath moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 48, An Act to proclaim Child and Youth Mental Health Day / Projet de loi 48, Loi proclamant la Journée de la santé mentale des enfants et des jeunes.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member for a short statement?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: As per the explanatory note, the bill proclaims Friday, May 7, 2010 and the Friday of the first full week of May in each subsequent year as Child and Youth Mental Health Day.



Hon. Laurel C. Broten: I'm pleased to rise in the House today to acknowledge Children's Mental Health Week, which is marked the first full week of May each year. This important week is about increasing awareness of the signs of child and youth mental health problems, decreasing stigma, and understanding that help is available and that it works.

Les statistiques révèlent qu'en Ontario, un enfant et un jeune sur cinq a un problème de santé mentale. Cela représente environ 500 000 enfants. Les problèmes de santé mentale incluent aussi bien l'anxiété et la dépression que l'hyperactivité avec déficit de l'attention, les troubles alimentaires et la schizophrénie, pour n'en nommer que quelques-uns.

Aujourd'hui, j'encourage chacun à porter ce ruban vert pour promouvoir la sensibilisation à la santé mentale des enfants.

Statistics tell us that one in five Ontario children and youth has a mental health illness; that's about 500,000 kids. Illnesses range from anxiety and depression to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia and more. Today, I encourage all of us to wear this green ribbon to promote awareness of children's mental health.

We all need to talk about this important issue in our families, in our communities and across the province. When a child has a mental health challenge, it can take an enormous toll on the entire family. A child suffers stigma, has trouble in school, and may be ostracized by friends and feel isolated. For the family, a child in crisis creates complete upheaval, and too often families feel there is nowhere to turn.

Étant moi-même parente, je peux seulement imaginer la difficulté et l'isolement que ressentent les parents que j'ai rencontrés et qui m'ont raconté leur histoire. Je tiens à dire à ces parents et à tous les parents de l'Ontario que notre gouvernement partage avec vous les aspirations que vous avez pour vos enfants.

As a parent myself, I can only imagine what a tough and lonely road it must be for the parents I have met and who have shared their life's journey with me. I want to say to those parents, and to all Ontario's parents, that this government shares the aspirations you have for your kids. We have dreams for your kids too, and that is why in 2004 we provided the first base funding increase in over a decade into children's mental health, and in 2007 we invested another $24.5 million. We have also doubled the funding to the telepsychiatry program and expanded access in rural, remote and underserved communities. In 2004, our government established the Provincial Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at CHEO in Ottawa. In 2008, we put in place the student support leadership initiative, which provides $3 million per year to build partnerships between mental health agencies and school boards. And this year, we will fund the development of the navigator, a program where parents with lived experiences help parents to get the services and supports they need for their kids.

L'un des côtés à la fois les plus enrichissants et les plus déchirants de mon travail est d'entendre directement les témoignages des familles de l'Ontario, de comprendre leur vécu et de connaître l'impact positif et le pouvoir de transformation des programmes novateurs en santé mentale.

I am reminded of a visit I made to Niagara Child and Youth Services, where I saw first-hand the impact of art therapy. For kids who have undergone traumatic life experiences and are unable to verbalize their thoughts and feelings, art therapy allows them to express their views of themselves and the world around them. But perhaps most importantly, it allows them to heal. Through art therapy, I witnessed the progression of one girl's journey from self-hatred to self-worth through paintings of herself.

Although our government has undertaken some very important work, there is still much more to do. We take up the call of Children's Mental Health Ontario's latest graffiti campaign, and we will not write these kids off.

As Iris the dragon tells us in Gayle Grass's groundbreaking children's book depicting one child's struggles with mental illness and journey to healing, "Just keep believing in yourself and know that there are people around to help you. And when you grow up and see a falling star, catch it, shine it brightly, and throw it into the sky as high as you can."

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Responses?


Ms. Sylvia Jones: I just met with the Parents for Children's Mental Health, and I'd like to use their words to respond to the minister's statement.

"As shown in multiple reports and studies, the devastating effects of having a child with mental health issues, the impact it has on the family and surrounding community has reached its breaking point. It is time for a call to action and time for all of us to come together in easing the pain and suffering for our children."


Auditor General Jim McCarter in 2009 indicated that the estimated total economic cost attributed to mental illness in Ontario was $22 billion per year. This includes things like health care, law enforcement, motor vehicle accidents, crime, and indirect costs resulting in loss productivity.

Again from the Parents for Children's Mental Health briefing that I just came out of: The recently released Ontario budget once again provided no increased funding for children and youth mental health services, meaning another year of no core funding increases, for three years consistently. This lack of investment has caused immediate closures of services, staff layoffs, and realignment of many programs for children and youth mental health services across the province, further adding to the fragmentation of services available to the more than 656,000 currently suffering from mental health illnesses across the province.

The Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions, of which I am a member, has also released its interim report based on the numerous consultations held with agencies, professionals, researchers and consumers across the province. Throughout the report, the fragmentation of services, silos, and difficulty navigating the system is referred to.

It is imperative that Ontario begin to actively address the crisis of child and youth mental health services in Ontario. Families, children, and youth across the province are in acute need of accessible services, resources, support and assistance. Again, from Parents for Children's Mental Health: I couldn't agree more.


Ms. Andrea Horwath: I'm responding to the Minister for Children and Youth Services for her statement earlier today. I have to say first and foremost that New Democrats commend Parents for Children's Mental Health and their partners for the attention that they draw to the unmet needs of Ontario's children and youth who have mental health issues here in the province. Of course, across Canada there is a drive to have a day designated as child and youth mental health awareness day in every province-and, of course, I just introduced a bill to hopefully have that happen here in Ontario. But I have to say, and I think we would all agree, that we need more than a day of awareness and recognition.

The minister, I would have to say, is disingenuous to suggest that the McGuinty government is responding properly to the crisis in children's mental health. How dare she say that help is available and that it works? Help is not available. That is why these parents are here. That is why awareness continues to have to be made about this issue.

This government has frozen funding for children's mental health for three years straight. That means that the help is not available because the services are not there for people. To avoid more service cuts and layoffs, Children's Mental Health Ontario recommends a regular 3% annual increase in the budgets. Families want much sharper government focus on filling the needs of children and youth and their families, and we agree with that.

Due to the government's shortfall, almost half of our community mental health agencies in Ontario had to cut programs during this year, eliminating a range of counselling and support services for approximately 1,000 children and youth. That means 1,000 children and youth for whom services are not available, and of course, therefore, it's not working.

More than half of these agencies-54%-anticipate further program cuts this year; two out of every three agencies had to lay off staff; and one third of them had budget deficits as the needs outstripped the resources. The cuts meant less residential care for young people, fewer in-home services, less help for teens with both addiction and mental health challenges, and less help for families.

Is this the kind of Ontario that the McGuinty government wants-a province where children languish without services? Sadly, only one in four families who need mental health services for their children have access to those services.

I could go on and on, but I know that my colleague has something to say about the Minister of Health's statement, so I'll end with that.


Mr. Peter Shurman: I rise today to recognize Children's Mental Health Week in my riding of Thornhill. I do so to recognize the commitment and hard work of all those who deliver mental health services to the children of York region, despite the serious disregard shown to them by the McGuinty government.

These dedicated people do so despite the fact that York region only receives $127 per child in mental health support while the rest of the GTA receives $221 per child. The end result is that their current funding only allows them to accommodate 16% of the children identified in need-16%. That means that 84 of every 100 children in York region needing mental health services are going without.

It all comes down to this government setting priorities, which it does not. In January, my colleagues and I on the finance committee travelled around Ontario to ask people what this government's spending priorities should be. We heard from the people who deliver mental health services for children and the parents of the children who need those services. They were unequivocal that children's mental health services should take priority over full-day kindergarten. As we all know, this government did not listen.


Mr. Bill Mauro: I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that reads as follows:

"Whereas we currently have no psychiatric emergency service at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to support the creation of a psychiatric emergency service in emergency at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario."

I thank you in so many ways for allowing me to be part of the greatness that is and with growth of PCMH......... and its professional aquiantances; for the awesomeness that is … Member, Niagara,