Ontario’s young people, our most precious resource, are suffering from mental illnesses like never before.
Today, November 20, is National Child Day. We all should take a moment to recognize and listen to the thousands of voices crying out for help. COVID-19 has taken an incredible toll on the mental health of Ontarians. Even before the pandemic struck, resources and people were stretched to the limit. The pre-pandemic wait was 2.5 years for 28,000 kids needing mental health services.
The Ontario government announced $12 million in new funding last month and it’s welcome. However, it won’t put a dent in the waitlist of thousands of kids. We know Premier Ford wants to do the right thing, and the right thing to do is to provide much more new investment to hire clinical staff. It may save lives.
OPSEU/SEFPO’s members who work in children’s mental health recognize that for youth to succeed we must strengthen the social safety net. We must also invest in public services so we can lift children and youth out of poverty. Investment in prevention programs to support children and youth in their homes, and better supports for workers in child welfare and children’s aid are needed.
This goal only takes political will and action to achieve. We have the ability and means to beat poverty! In 1989, all federally represented parties voted unanimously to end child poverty by the year 2000. However, some 31 years later, the problem still exists. People continue to suffer. It’s time to correct this once and for all. A strong public sector is key to protecting Ontarians.
On National Child Day, and every day of the year, let’s work together to finish what we started in 1989. Let’s celebrate National Child Day by committing to do better!
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer