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Smokey Thomas “Takes a Stand” for Child and Youth Mental Health

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas signs the "Take a Stand" pledge with two other OPSEU members.

On Thursday, March 10, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas signed his name to pledge to “Take a Stand” in support of the Ontario Action Network for Child and Youth Mental Health.

This new coalition is demanding that the government end the crisis in child and youth mental health in a province where three busloads of children and youth commit suicide every year. The campaign, “Take a Stand” will be launched in communities across Ontario starting this May.

 “We know that 40 per cent of children and youth don’t get help in this province when they need it. There is simply no excuse for this,” Thomas said. “Child treatment workers have been raising the flag for years about program closures, layoffs and cuts to services. It’s time the McGuinty government made child and youth mental health sustainable.”

Every year, more than 25,000 Ontario children and youth are identified to be in need of help, but only about 15,000 get that help. The government can end this 40 percent “capacity gap” with an investment of $200 million over the next four years into the community-based agencies that actually deliver most of the services. Funding levels have been stagnant for 17 of the past 19 years.

 “I am proud of OPSEU’s participation in this coalition. It has been a long time coming,” said Deb Gordon, Child Treatment Chair. “Candidates in the next provincial election need to take a stand for child and youth mental health.”

The Ontario Action Network for Child and Youth Mental Health is comprised of a provincial network of parents, youth advocacy groups, service providers, unions, and other partners committed to ending the crisis in child and youth mental health.