PC Leader Tim Hudak and PC MPP Christine Elliott visit Youthdale Treatment Centreon Victoria Street in Toronto on Tuesday February 5 2013
Credits: Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun/QMI
TORONTO — Ontario's patchwork mental health-care system is failing too many patients, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says.
"The reality is for far too long we treated mental health and addiction as an afterthought. It's been relegated to the shadows of our health-care system," Hudak said Tuesday. "People suffering from mental illness suffer in silence, often stigmatized, blamed and misunderstood.
"It's time that we in Ontario treated mental illness as important as physical illness," Hudak said during a visit to a mental-health treatment facility for youth in Toronto.
The Ontario Tories will release a new policy white paper this week — "A Healthier Ontario" — which calls for a co-ordinated mental health-care system.
Tory MPP Christine Elliott said the issue is now spread across ten government ministries and hundreds of agencies.
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan spends millions of dollars a year sending young people to the U.S. for treatment they can't get here, Elliott said.
Parents who can afford to do so pay out of their own pocket to skip waiting lists that can last up to two years, she said.
"Imagine telling someone who's the parent of a suicidal 10-year-old that they're going to have to wait two years for treatment, or to tell that to the parents of a 13-year-old with a significant eating disorder," Elliott said.
"It's really unconscionable and we need to do better for those individuals and families."
Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-24, she said.
Elliott also said the coming "boomer tsunami" will require more mental-health services for seniors suffering from dementia.