The Hill Update - May 27

The current pandemic has caused a great deal of hardships for Canadians, and now parents are reporting an increasing amount of anxiety, especially amongst their school-aged children.


It’s now been more than a year and two months since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. It has certainly been a very difficult time for all of us, and difficult for many reasons.


For those of us who were looking forward to a somewhat normal summer, that’s probably not going to happen. It looks like many of the restrictions will still be in place until at least the Fall. Restrictions that prevent our spending time with friends, family and loved ones for more than a year are causing a devastating impact on Canadians’ mental health.


Recently, Angus Reid on behalf of United Way conducted a poll on the mental health of Canadians. The data showed that 76% of respondents said that the pandemic had caused stress, anxiety or depression.

Today I’d like to talk to you about this – the current mental health crisis caused in large part by the pandemic.


Recently, Angus Reid on behalf of United Way conducted a poll on the mental health of Canadians. The data showed that 76% of respondents said that the pandemic had caused stress, anxiety or depression.


Another poll conducted by KPMG indicated that half of Canadians -- 54 per cent – say their mental health has suffered over the past year. That’s an incredibly concerning statistic, especially its potential for long-term issues.


The decline is more pronounced in people who are unemployed due to COVID (61%), those with a pre-existing mental health conditions, those aged 18-24, students, and those who have a disability (47%).


Earlier this year, Camille Quenneville, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division, said this on the subject: “It’s very worrying to see the trend lines on the mental health of Ontarians decreasing as significantly as they have since our last poll.”


She went on to say that “As service providers, it’s very alarming to think about what we’ll need to do to support the population. The service demands will be very significant.”


Quenneville concludes that “A lot of people will struggle in the aftermath of the pandemic because they will be coming to terms with what they’ve lost, and that for a lot of people, it will be anxiety provoking to go back to their regular routine.”


Currently, many Canadians across the country are scrambling to find counselling. Social workers are working overtime. More women are reporting mental health concerns while men are reporting issues with substance addictions. Domestic violence reports have gone up.


Women are bearing the brunt of COVID-19 and have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, mental health included.


Parents are reporting an increasing amount of anxiety, especially amongst their school-aged children.


Suicide rates in our society are complex – however, suicidal thoughts and feelings in the general population remain elevated at 8%, compared to 6% in the spring 2020 and 10% in the fall of 2020—substantially higher than the 2.5 per cent observed pre-pandemic in 2016.


The reality is, we are not just looking at mental anxiety and people thinking about taking their lives, we’re also having people mask that through other things such as alcohol or opiates or hard drugs.


We are no doubt in a mental health crisis.


Will our patchwork of services be able to meet the challenge of this crisis? It doesn’t look like it thus far.


Recognizing this crisis, my Conservative colleague, Todd Doherty, introduced a motion in Parliament that calls on the Government to take immediate action to establish a national suicide prevention hotline that consolidates all suicide crisis numbers into one easy to remember three-digit hotline (9-8-8) that is accessible to all Canadians.


Mr. Doherty is hoping that Members of Parliament can come together and pass this motion as soon as possible given its importance not just during the pandemic but after as well.


As for myself, I recently contributed to mental health efforts by sponsoring a petition initiated by Steven Soos.


Petition e-3351, calls for the House of Commons to launch a study in the Standing Committee on Health on the merits of declaring a national emergency on mental health.


Today I’ll have Mr. Soos on the show to talk about the petition and the mental health crisis we’re currently in.


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