Carolyn Bennett
Hon. Carolyn Bennett
Member of Parliament for Toronto—St. Paul's
Community Update | November 6, 2021
November 5, 2021

Hello Neighbours,

Exciting times …..

Last Tuesday, I was very proud to be sworn in as the first federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions in Canada. I am truly humbled by this responsibility; we all recognize the parallel pandemic of mental illness and the unmet mental health needs that have affected far too many Canadians for far too long. Covid-19 has been stressful for everyone. It has brutally uncovered the gaps in access to mental health services all across Canada.

The disruptions have made our most vulnerable citizens even more vulnerable and even more at risk. As we Build Back Better from Covid-19, I am very excited to work closely on the issues related to mental health and addictions. This has been a focus of our government, with a commitment of $1 billion in Budget 2021 - and a focus I am eager to bring to the forefront of my desk.

Identifying and responding to the causes of health challenges has long been recognized as crucial to successful health promotion. In 1989, we fought to keep Women’s College Hospital independent because we believed it was a special institution that was already moving from doctors to interdisciplinary care, from hospital-based care to the community, to true patient-centered care where patients had real choices. Women’s College had a genuine understanding of the need to keep people well, not just to patch them up when they got sick. We had to support women as the health care guardians of their families. It meant that as a hospital we had begun the fight on the social determinants of health, including mental health; poverty, violence, the environment, equity, and education and health literacy.

As a family doctor, I struggled to get patients with mental health challenges referrals to appropriate care. OHIP only covered doctors. Social services agencies were stretched with long waiting lists. Some patients had additional coverage from their work-based insurance. Other patients were able to pay for psychologists or private therapists and social workers. Too many patients were suffering as we tried hard to provide support until they could be seen by an expert in mental health.

As we know, the Canada Health Act was established to ensure that medically necessary care in hospitals and by physicians would be covered. We need to build the mental health capacity in our health care systems and we need to build the mental health literacy amongst Canadians, especially our youth.

As I begin my new responsibilities, I wanted to share the new Mental Health Handbook for Parliamentarians and Staff prepared by the amazing people at mentalhealthliteracy.org and supervised by psychiatrist and Senator Stan Kutcher, York Centre MP Ya’ara Saks and the All-Party Mental Health Caucus. I think it is an excellent resource for understanding mental health concepts and consciously integrating them into policymaking.

I also love the Transitions resource for post-secondary students transitioning to campus life.

I was very impressed with my guided tour through the portal Wellness Together. It provides tons of information and 24/7 access to a counsellor with a translator if necessary. As of October 25, Wellness Together has had over 1.79 million individuals across all provinces and territories access the portal in over 5.23 million web sessions. 98% of users have experienced improved mental health after using Wellness Together resources. We’ve learned from the pandemic the importance of ‘being in this together', and this same mindset stands true to supporting Canadians with mental health and substance use – and wellness together has embodied just that.

This week I began speaking with some of my counterparts in the provinces. Multiple provinces have already put in place a Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.  I look forward to working with them and the provinces and territories, the municipalities, the experts and those with lived experience to build an evidence-based pan-Canadian system of systems that will address the needs of the most vulnerable, provide optimal access to mental health supports in family practices, and build mental health literacy.

As we focus on Building Back Better and creating a stronger economy and healthier Canada – let’s continue the discussion! Next Sunday, November 14, all of the elected representatives from Toronto-St. Paul’s will come together to bring us up to date on the work ongoing in their jurisdictions, to listen and plan with all of you the way forward. See details below for how to attend virtually. 

I hope to see you there.

Sincerely, 

Carolyn Bennett


Upcoming Event

Virtual Summit - A Facebook Live Event | November 14 @ 3PM

Join Toronto-St. Paul’s elected officials from all orders of government to discuss how we can continue to work together to ‘Build Back Better’ economically, socially and environmentally. Email questions in advance to [email protected]

Visit facebook.com/carolyn.bennett.stpauls/live on November 14 at 3:00pm to watch the Summit Live. You do not need a Facebook account to view the broadcast. A recording of the event will be posted to our website.


Federal Updates

Veterans' Week

Every year during the lead up to Remembrance Day, on November 11, we honour those who have served Canada in times of war, military conflict and peace. November 5-11 is Veterans’ Week.

This year the theme of Veterans’ Week is “Service, Courage and Sacrifice – At home, around the world and across generations.”

Canada’s diverse population of Veterans has served on many kinds of missions, both at home and abroad. To learn more about seven of those missions, some marking key anniversaries in 2021, people and stories of those who have served Canada, events taking place in November, personal recollections of Canadian heroes, mental health and wellness support and events as well as services and benefits, click here. 

 

The 100th Anniversary of the Poppy

In the lead-up to Remembrance Day on November 11, don’t forget to wear a poppy to show your support! This year is also the 100th anniversary of the poppy as the symbol showing Canadians’ support for our Veterans, which was first adopted following the First World War to raise money for Veterans and honour those who lost their lives in service to Canada.

For more on the Poppy Campaign, click here.

 

Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow

Climate change is the greatest long-term threat of our time, but it is also the greatest opportunity for our economy and workers. By working with global partners at COP26 and elsewhere, we can tackle the climate crisis and build a better and cleaner future for everyone.

While attending United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, this month, Prime Minister Trudeau championed putting a price on pollution towards reaching global climate goals and called on all countries to take bold action to expand the use of pollution pricing globally.

During COP26, Canada announced investments of up to $57.5 million to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries adapt to the climate crisis and increase their resilience.

The government also reaffirmed support for the Global Methane Pledge, and Canada’s objective of reducing methane emissions in the oil and gas sector by at least 75% below 2012 levels by 2030 - the first country to announce that target.

Canada also endorsed the UK‑led Global Forest Finance Pledge, which aims to identify US$12 billion in public climate finance from 2021 to 2025, to support further ambition from forested developing countries.

Together, we will create new jobs and economic growth, tackle the climate crisis, and secure a better and cleaner future for all. For further information on Canada’s plan click here.

 

Canada selected as headquarters for the new International Sustainability Standards Board

When it comes to sustainability in the financial sector, now more than ever, the world needs consistent, comparable global reporting standards. That’s why our government is thrilled that Canada will host one of the central offices for the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) and we are grateful to be recognized for our country’s diverse and strong talent, financial sector expertise, and climate leadership.

The ISSB and its new Montreal offices will be the global sustainability disclosure standard setter and will provide people around the world with access to reliable information, and strengthen accountability for companies and investors in order to ensure an efficient global transition to a net-zero economy.

The new ISSB will create good jobs here in Canada and accelerate growth in the green economy, at home and around the world. This selection is a win for Canada and is a reflection of our commitment to climate action across the economy. For more information, click here.

 

Helping middle-class families and kids recover from the pandemic

This week, families with children already receiving the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will receive their final installment of the young child supplement payment. These additional payments have provided families with up to $1,200 per child under 6, supporting more than two million children and helping about 1.6 million families put food on the table, find alternatives to child care, and pay for at-home learning activities.

For further information, click here.


Resources

As the situation is changing daily, please check the following websites for daily updates in Toronto and across Canada:


In Our Community

Local businesses continue to need our support! Find out what stores are open, or what restaurants are offering takeout and delivery. The following BIAs have put together lists of businesses that are still open, albeit doing things a bit differently. Let's do what we can to support our local businesses:


Wellness Together

COVID-19 has changed the daily lives of people around the world. During these difficult times, it is critical that Canadians be able to obtain credible information and access services to support their mental health and wellbeing. That's why the government launched a portal dedicated to mental wellness: Wellness Together Canada.

This portal will connect Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls, and will make it easier to find credible information and help address mental health and substance use issues.

Kids Help Phone

Although we’re far apart physically, our young people must feel help is close.  Kids Help Phone is a remote mental health service that connects youth with professional counselling, information and referrals across Canada without any face-to-face contact. Contact Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868, by texting 686868, or by going online to kidshelpphone.ca.


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