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Recognizing the care economy: a call for compassion through action

May 7, 2024
Counseling, child and psychologist woman talking, support and help with problem, mental health or therapy consultation. Listening, empathy and therapist person, african kid and school or life advice

211, Canada’s primary source of information for government and community-based, non-clinical health and social services, reported 88,000 requests for mental health and substance use supports in 2023. This represents a 15% increase from the previous year of 2022. As Mental Health Week unfolds across Canada, these staggering statistics serve as a reminder of the urgent need for robust support systems to support stronger and healthier communities and families across the country. United Way Centraide Canada remains committed to addressing these escalating challenges and advocating for comprehensive investments in the community-based sector to bridge the gaps in our mental health and well-being support systems. 

Communities across Canada continue to feel the profound impact of the pandemic, which weighs heavily on their mental health and well-being. For many, the journey towards recovery is met with affordability challenges, increased wait times, lack of access to adequate supports, all of which are putting increased strain on the sector’s workforce. Amidst these dynamics, we at United Way Centraide Canada welcomed the federal government’s recent $500 million investment towards youth mental health, as part of their Budget 2024. According to Youth Mental Health Canada, approximately 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental health illness. In addition, the number of youth under 18 years of age on waiting lists for mental health and addiction services more than doubled between 2017 and 2020 (from 12,000 to 28,000), according to a report by Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO). These statistics show that the federal allocation towards youth mental health is a step in the right direction, however we must do more. 

The community services sector is crucial to deliver mental health services and deserves greater government investments to fill the gaps in serving our communities to the best of our ability.  

This year’s federal budget made significant investments in services and programs delivered through the community services sector but did not include investments to support its vital workforce. Contributing to programs to bolster the mental health and well-being of frontline workers as well as a labour force strategy for the sector will improve retention and recruitment of the care economy’s skilled workforce. Pouring into carers is our call to compassion through action, as a healthy sector promotes healthy communities and correlates with fostering recovery and well-being for communities across the country. 

Across Canada, United Way Centraides are relentlessly working to provide mental health services and supports to communities. For example, United Way Winnipeg is continuing to lead the way with Huddle, a safe space for youth between ages 12-29, offering free, trauma-informed, and culturally safe health services in a youth-friendly atmosphere. United Way of Greater Moncton and Southeastern New Brunswick is also working to connect children and youth to whom and what they need for success in both school and life, setting them up for a higher potential for positive mental health. 

In order to foster stronger, and healthier communities and families across the country, we at United Way Centraide Canada are continuing to advocate for greater investments to better support carers in the sector, which in turns helps us better address the complex issues that contribute to the ongoing decrease of mental health over the years from coast to coast to coast. This ongoing work will help us realize our vision to ensure everyone in every community has an opportunity to reach their full potential. 

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