QUEEN’S PARK – In February 2016, after facing pressure from Ontario PC Health Critic Jeff Yurek (Elgin-Middlesex-London), Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins committed to funding London Connect for Mental Health. Six months later, the promised funding still hasn’t reached the program, and there is no clear date for when it can be expected.
“The highly successful program matches trained volunteers to psychiatric patients leaving hospitals to help transition them smoothly back into community life. The minister knows that this program has already been studied,” said Yurek. “The evidence shows that it works, saves money and provides a better life for mental health patients, but Minister Hoskins continues to allow funding to stall while mental health patients suffer.”
A study showed that Connect reduced the length of hospital stays, saving an estimated $2.9 million per year at every hospital offering the program, while it costs only $106,000 annually to run in London. While in operation, the service matched 100 patients with volunteers, and had 20 patients waiting for support when funding dried up in December 2015.
“The Liberals continue to claim that mental health is a priority for their government, but the evidence points to announcements, not action,” said Yurek. “Connect for Mental Health has shown the Minister its value to the London community and to Ontario’s health care system. Minister Hoskins needs to deliver on his funding promise and ensure this important program can continue to serve the people who need it.”
A copy of the Minister’s promise can be found here: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/house-proceedings/house_detail.do?Date=2016-02-17&Parl=41&Sess=1&locale=en