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Andrew Swan, MLA Minto
October 5, 2017

Mental Illness Awareness Day

This week, we recognize Mental Illness Awareness Week, and we affirm that every Manitoban deserves mental wellness. Each year, doctors and researchers learn more about the spectrum of mental illness and the tools Manitobans can use to manage their mental health.

One in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness every year. Nearly everyone knows someone who struggles with mental illness. We encourage Manitobans to speak freely and openly about mental health in an effort to spread awareness and break the stigmas attached.

Our NDP team has had the pleasure of meeting with the dedicated staff of various mental health organizations in our province such as the Schizophrenia Society and Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba. Manitoba has many organizations committed to improving the lives of those with mental illnesses.

We've heard concerns that this government has stood still while other provinces have put forward comprehensive mental health strategies. Rather than taking action and using a boost in federal funding to build beds, the minister has chosen to cut crucial health services.

As the minister sits on his hands, mental illness becomes a larger provincial crisis. Young people, particularly indigenous youth who live on reserves, are taking their own lives. Mental illness often co-occurs with substance abuse, targeting our most vulnerable citizens. The minister himself admits that mental health services have failed to keep up with the demand.

Mental health advocates are calling on the government to invest in the supports our system needs to help those in mental crisis and promote mental wellness across the province. Families want the government to fund long-term-care beds and recovery treatments. Teachers call for more support as they approach mental health in schools.

The Health Minister has the opportunity now to change course and stop the cuts. It's time for this government to take real action and advance the fight for mental health.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.