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Toronto, ON, March 26, 2024: Children’s Mental Health Ontario welcomes new funding in the 2024 Ontario Budget announced today for five new youth wellness hubs and investments in supportive housing, but it does not meet the need for urgent and sustained funding to address the health human resource crisis and the long wait times for services within the community child and youth mental health sector.

Without urgent stabilization funding in the 2024 Ontario Budget, children, youth, and families seeking mental health care will face growing wait times and increased barriers to accessing community-based care.

The Ontario government laid the groundwork for system improvement in 2023 with its commitment to child and youth mental health, but more is required because our kids and families can’t wait.

CMHO’s pre-budget submission outlined that the community child and youth mental health sector needs an investment of $140 million over four years and to work with the province to use the funding to help scale up the child and youth mental health workforce and the programs that will have the greatest impact for kids and their families.

Like hospitals, home care, and the long-term care sector, there is a human health resource crisis impacting frontline mental health and addiction workers and the communities they serve. This is a critical time for Ontario’s child and youth mental health sector, with increased needs among children and youth facing mental health challenges combined with significant staff shortages of mental health professionals.

High turnover, burnout, and an aging workforce are having a significant impact on the community-based mental health sector.  As well, the significant wage disparity between community-based child and youth mental health and hospitals and education, with wage gaps as high as 50 per cent, means that in addition to facing growing demand for services, the child and youth mental health centres are losing staff to other sectors.

A shortage of mental health professionals contributes to long wait times for services, and when families finally get access to care, because of high turnover, they often have to repeat their story with a change in clinicians. The impacts of the health human resource crisis are even greater for underserved regions and equity-deserving populations, who we know already face higher barriers to accessing care.

We urge the Ontario government to continue to build on the investments from this past year and in this budget, as they are critical steps forward. The community child and youth mental health sector is ready to work with government on urgent stabilization for services, starting with developing a workforce strategy for the sector that includes addressing wage gaps, as well as critical system-building initiatives to advance quality, equity, and access. With the right support and continued investments, we can ensure a future where all infants, children, youth, and families get the mental health care and supports they need to thrive.



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