Kid's Can't Wait

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Return to Children's Mental Health Ontario


Ontario’s next government must move quickly and make significant investments and remove the system barriers that prevent kids from getting the mental health supports when and where they need it


Invest $300M over the next 5 years into child and youth mental health

  • Evidence indicates that the social, emotional, and educational impacts of the pandemic, including prolonged isolation, repeated school closures, hours of screen time and increased stress and fears about the virus, have all had a dramatic effect on both physical and mental health in children and youth (Tombeau Cost et al., 2021; Public Health Ontario, 2020).
  • This means more children who are missing school due to their mental health and more parents missing work to care for their children.​
  • Did you know 1/3 of Ontario parents have had a child miss school due to anxiety? 1/4 of Ontario’s parent parents have missed work to care for a child with anxiety. This has costed the Ontario economy $421 million/year.
  • Investing $300M over the next 5 years into children’s mental health will help to reduce wait times, build an integrated system of care from schools to community agencies, and meet the growing demand for more complex care that can more effectively be delivered by community-based services.


Cut wait times to 30 days

  • Did you know 28,000+ children and youth are waiting for community mental health care? Wait times could be as long as 2.5 years for specialized services, an average 92 days for intensive treatment services, and an average 67 days for counselling & therapy. These are well beyond the clinically appropriate wait times (CMHO, 2020).
  • Cutting wait times to 30 days will ensure timely access to care for the 28,000+ children and youth already waiting for care and for the surge in demand expected to continue beyond the pandemic. It will help prevent needs from worsening and waitlists for more acute services from growing.


Build more capacity in the community so kids don’t end up in emergency rooms

  • Did you know that over the last 10 years, there has been a 71% increase in rate of child and youth mental health hospitalizations and 64% increase in rate of ED visits for children and youth? At the same time, the rate of hospitalization for every other condition fell by 26% (CIHI, 2020).
  • We can ensure children and youth experiencing a crisis have an alternative to going to already-strained emergency departments by building more capacity in the community. This means investing in:
    • Intensive treatment and specialized consultation services
    • Increased access to psychotherapy and counselling (walk-in therapy, single session, and brief services as well as long-term counselling and psychotherapy)
    • Increased family therapy and supports
    • Scaling 24×7 crisis support services
    • Enabling key process and functions in the delivery of mental health treatments and services, including, coordinated access, service coordination, and prevention


Develop a highly qualified and sustainable workforce of children’s mental health professionals

  • Did you know that 83% of CMHO’s members reported experiencing staffing shortages at their agency? This was right before the surge of Omicron impaired the health care system in Ontario.
  • Our sector’s front-line workers are essential to building a better system of care. That’s why any investment must be supported by a commitment to addressing the health and human resources crisis so we can stabilize our workforce and build a continuum of care between the school and community.