Mental Health Addiction Alliance

Access to mental health services varies across Ontario

It’s been a difficult few years for Ontarians, and if you’re feeling the stress, you’re not alone; a recent survey from the Canadian Association of Mental Health (CAMH) shows increasing levels of daily drinking and cannabis use, as well as high levels of “psychological distress”.

The study shows that over the last 10 years, for example, more people have started taking anti-depression and anti-anxiety medications.

Mental health addiction support unequal

At the same time, if you need publicly-funded help, you may have a problem. The recently-created Ontario Mental Health & Addictions Alliance says there are big differences between support that’s available in one part of the province over another, and they’re calling on the government to make access more equal. (Stevenson, Waplak and Associates is not a member.)

According to information collected by this coalition of mental health organizations

  • If you need supportive housing in one unspecified area of the province, your wait will be 1,097 days (approximately three years); the provincial average is 290 days, or just over eight months.
  • If you need residential addiction treatment, your average wait will be 41 days – but in the Central East Local Health Integration Network area, you could wait five times as long.
  • Even kids have unequal access to mental health care; in the Hamilton-Niagara region the wait for treatment is up to 283 days. Kids who live in the southeast corner of the province only wait 130.

Mental health a provincial election issue

More than 2.5 million people in Ontario live with mental health or addiction issues, and this coalition believes it’s time to have a more concrete plan in place.

They’re calling on provincial parties to take action and

  • invest in mental health and addictions services to provide equitable access to a core basket of services across Ontario;
  • reduce wait times to ensure that children and youth are getting timely access to treatment;
  • improve access to supportive housing across Ontario; and,
  • put government leadership in place to co-ordinate action across ministries and sectors

If you would like more information about this campaign, please visit