Carolyn Bennett
Hon. Carolyn Bennett
Member of Parliament for Toronto—St. Paul's
Community Updates | December 20, 2021
December 20, 2021


Omicron is worrying us all. Covid-19 is once again interfering with our plans for the holiday season. Peter and I were happy to get our boosters on Friday and we hope everyone will too !!! The best response to the concern of this new highly transmissible variant is to get fully vaccinated ourselves, encourage others and strictly observe the Toronto Public Health advice. 

I have always loved the message of the holiday season. Every year I try to find inspiration in these words when I think about concrete goals for the following year.

It’s hard to forget how our 2020 New Year’s resolutions got upended by the emerging Covid-19 virus, which totally changed our priorities. For two years now we have had to respond to the social disruption, the loss of loved ones, the concern for the wellbeing of our friends and families. We have been grateful to those who have guided us through, from the lab bench scientists to the public servants who ensured that we have been so successful in getting Canadians immunized. We have been grateful to the frontline workers who rallied for the sprint of an urgent pandemic response who are now facing a marathon as the virus continues to mutate and threaten our communities.

As the new Minister of Mental Health and Addiction, I am focused on the parallel pandemic of mental health problems, increasing substance use and the deadly toxic drug supply. As the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction reminds us every day: mental health is health. They are also clear that we can be ‘apart – not alone’.

The challenging experiences of Covid-19 seem to have made it easier for Canadians to admit they are struggling. Now we are all more comfortable talking about mental health, mental illnesses and problems with substance use, I believe we will be able to reduce the stigma that remains a barrier for those who are suffering to seek help.

As I begin to tackle this new responsibility, I have been struck by the parallel with the fight for Women’s College Hospital. In 1990, it was about protecting the future of health and healthcare, and the shift from doctor-centred to interdisciplinary care, from a focus on the hospital to service in the community, with the patient as a true partner. In 1990 we were fighting for providing trauma informed culturally-safe care with a focus on the social determinants of health: poverty, violence, the environment, shelter, equity, education. Now, working with the provinces and territories, municipalities, Indigenous leadership, experts and those with lived and living experiences, we are building the momentum to raise the mental health literacy of all Canadians. We aspire to achieve the balance of the medicine wheel: mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. We recognize that we need to ensure the most appropriate care in the most appropriate place (now including virtual) by the most appropriate provider.

As the Canada Health Act ensured care by doctors and hospitals, we will design a Mental Health Transfer to provinces and territories to support a Mental Health and Addictions Strategy that will build out Mental Health Human Resources and support community-based resources. I believe that the work towards National Mental Health standards will be quickly able to establish definitions for Integrated Youth Services, Detox, Mental Health First Responders and the other areas where there is already a consensus of wise practices. 

The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Finance are truly committed to act on bold, innovative solutions. As we Build Back Better, we are profoundly aware of the intersection of mental health and housing, and the need for universal early learning and child care. We are determined to achieve the hat trick of more parents able to participate in the economy, good jobs and an excellent start for children to be ready to learn as they arrive at school.

And as we Build Back Better, we need your input. We need to ensure that the recovery leaves no one behind. Please give us your ideas.

We look forward to a 2022 filled with Peace, Hope, Love and Joy. Please Stay Safe. Encourage your family and friends to get vaccinated, and observe the public health guidance so once again we can be safely together.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2022

Photo: Carolyn, Peter and Ripley. 



Federal Updates

Economic and Fiscal Update 2021

Earlier last week, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, released the Economic and Fiscal Update 2021. The Economic and Fiscal Update 2021 provides Canadians with a transparent look at our nation’s finances and the government's plan to finish the fight against COVID-19, make life more affordable for Canadians, and ensure our economic recovery leaves no one behind.

Highlights of the Economic and Fiscal Update 2021 

  • Finishing the fight against COVID-19
    • Vaccines for Children and Free Booster Shots
    • Paid Sick Leave for Workers
    • Clean and Healthy Indoor Air by Improving Ventilation 
  • Support for People
    • Help for Guaranteed Income Supplement Recipients and Students Affected by CERB payments
    • Enhancing the Home Office Expense Deduction
    • Extending the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
  • Support for Businesses
    • Extending the Recovery Hiring Program
    • Targeting Supports for Businesses Affected by the Pandemic
    • Relieving Supply Chain Congestion 

For more and further details on the above, please click here to read the full Economic and Fiscal Update 2021.


Compensation and long-term reform of First Nations child and family services

Last week, the government released an update on negotiations regarding compensation and long-term reform of First Nations child and family services. This announcement highlighted that the 2021 Economic Fiscal Update is provisioning $40 billion for this important work. This is a part of laying the foundation for an equitable and better future for First Nations children, their families, and communities, and ensure that no Indigenous child ever faces the same systemic discrimination and tragedy again. For the full statement made on December 13th, 2021 – please visit here.

Official apologies by Minister Anand to victims of sexual assault in the military

Last week, Minister Anand joined the Deputy Minister (DM) of National Defence, Jody Thomas, and the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Wayne Eyre, to apologize to current and former members of the Defence Team – as well as Veterans – who have experienced or been affected by sexual assault, sexual harassment and discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. 

The apology was delivered on behalf of the Government of Canada, the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Department of National Defence respectively. This acknowledged the failure of these institutions to effectively prevent sexual misconduct and discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation and reiterated their commitment to positive culture change, strengthening accountability mechanisms, and providing a safe and inclusive workplace. For further information, visit here

Federal Programs & Upcoming Opportunities

Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub

Last week, the government announced that Carleton University and the Dream Legacy Foundation (DLF) have been chosen to establish the Black Entrepreneurship Program’s third pillar, the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub. The Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub is one component of the Black Entrepreneurship Program. 

Once operational, the Knowledge Hub, created from a $5 million investment from the Government of Canada, will conduct research and collect data on Black entrepreneurship in Canada and identify barriers to success and opportunities to help Black entrepreneurs grow their businesses. In order to create a pan-Canadian approach, they will establish regional hubs which will be led by recognized post-secondary institutions to work with community organizations and co-develop research.

For further information on this announcement, click here

New Supports in the Community

St. Stephen’s Community House has recently joined The Neighbourhood Group. Please see the details below on their expanded services and supports available.




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:

Mental Health Support

Wellness Together Canada

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

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