Arif Virani

Your member of parliament for

Parkdale-High Park

Arif Virani

Your member of parliament for

Parkdale-High Park


Budget 2017: Mental Health + Addiction Services Support By the Numbers

Mental illness touches everyone – whether you have personally been affected by mental illness, or indirectly through friends or family members. It has touched my family, and I know we are by no means an exception.

I have long been a proponent for better access to mental health services, and the need to shift away from the stigma associated with mental illness, here in Parkdale-High Park and around the country.  Research has shown that timely intervention and treatment is critical for people experiencing mental illness. Unfortunately, research has also shown that wait times, in certain regions, can be as long as 18 months to see a mental health specialist. I know, and our Government knows, that this is not acceptable.

Budget 2017 will provide $5 billion over 10 years to support mental health initiatives across Canada. This is an unprecedented investment by the federal government. This means better access to mental health support for as many as 500,000 young Canadians under the age of 25 who cannot currently receive even basic mental health services.

In partnership with the province of Ontario, $1.9 billion will go to support mental health and addiction services. Our government recognizes that health care delivery falls under the primary jurisdiction of the provinces and territories, and the incredible amount of hard work that goes into delivering these services. We are committed to continuing to collaborate with our provincial and territorial partners to improve mental health and addiction services.

Support for Veterans’ Mental Health Services

Our veterans are exposed to traumatic stress, which can lead to severe mental health challenges. We know that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a very serious mental health issue that impacts veterans and their families, and we need to take action to support veterans who have so bravely defended our country. Budget 2017 will create a Centre of Excellence on PTSD and related mental health conditions. The Budget will invest $17.5 million over four years to the Centre to support veterans experiencing PTSD and related mental health conditions, plus an ongoing $9.2 million per year to ensure it has all the tools it needs to serve our veterans.

Addiction Services and Opioid Crisis

On February 14, 2017, I rose in the House of Commons to speak on Bill C-37: An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, to permit safe supervised injection sites.  I spoke out in support of this Bill because I know we can’t afford to wait to act any longer. Canada is facing a serious opioid crisis. People are dying every day due to overdoses. The old strategy to punish and criminalize users does not work – people are forced to say goodbye to their children, grandchildren, mothers, and fathers because the previous government refused to adapt their strategy to one based on evidence. I am proud to support our shift in treating addiction as a health care issue, and not a criminal one.

I am proud that in February 2017, our Government committed $65 million over five years as part of the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy to respond to the crisis and implement the Opioid Action Plan. Budget 2017 builds on this commitment with an additional investment of $35 million over five years, for a total of $100 million.

Improving Rehabilitation Supports for Inmates

Over 70% of men, and over half of women offenders experience identified mental health issues. To ensure we deliver proper care for offenders with mental health needs, and support their rehabilitation, Budget 2017 will invest $57.8 million over five years, and $13.6 million per year thereafter to expand mental health services for all inmates in federal correction facilities.

I am proud to serve the residents of Parkdale-High Park, as part of a Government that prioritizes the need for improved access to mental health and addiction services for all Canadians – a much needed shift in how we provide health care.

Stay tuned for the next installment of my Budget 2017 series tomorrow! Next up, my favourite topic as Parliamentary Secretary for Heritage: Multiculturalism!

“The Mental Health Commission of Canada applauds the Government of Canada for its new investments to address the critical underfunding of Canada’s mental health system…. It is very encouraging that for the first time in decades the federal government is prioritizing investments in Canada’s mental health system in concert with provinces and territories. As noted in Strengthening the Case for Investing in Canada’s Mental Health System, wise spending on evidence-based practices will pay dividends…. We are also encouraged by Budget 2017’s investments in housing and look forward to seeing a Housing First approach applied to this important social determinant of health…. These fresh dollars have the potential to move Canada forward from its record of relatively small investments in mental health as compared with other developed countries. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Canada has been at the back of the pack for too long.”

Louise Bradley, President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada

“We have been waiting for this Budget for over decade: consistently calling for coordinated federal social investments and national leadership in the social determinants of health, and with Budget 2017 delivering many pieces of the equity puzzle, what is needed now is a national accountability framework to realize – and operationalize – the intentions behind the investments.”

Jan Christianson-Wood, President, Canadian Association of Social Workers

“We are pleased that the Government of Canada is making children and youth with mental illness a priority and investing to reduce wait times and ensure improved access to mental health services for youth under 25. With 70 per cent of mental health problems having their onset during childhood or adolescence, this funding is a much needed and welcomed investment. We look forward to working with governments and other partners in mental health and addictions to help lend our voice and expertise in the sector to develop a detailed plan on how these funds will be spent with the goal of improving access and outcomes for children and their families dealing with mental illness.”

Kim Moran, CEO, Children’s Mental Health Ontario

Yours truly,

Arif Virani
MP for Parkdale-High Park
Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism