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September 18, 2017
Toronto, Ontario

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Good morning and welcome everyone.

Let me begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather is the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee [howden oh SAWnee], and, most recently, the territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, who are represented here today.

Thank you Elder Peter Schuler for your participation in these opening ceremonies.

Today is very special for me. It is my first speech as minister of Health, and I am very glad its focus is Mental Health. This is an issue that is near and dear to me.

You know – When the Prime Minister asked me to take on this role, I was impressed by the portfolio, even more so because of its impact on Mental Health.
To be honest, the very first thing that came to mind was how much I looked forward to building on the work done by my predecessor Jane Philpott in this area.

Some of you may know that I’m a career social worker. I dedicated 25 years to working in the community and helping with issues first responders deal with every day. These experiences taught me one very important lesson: that collaboration with service providers is essential to better care for patients.

In my role, I look forward to taking part in events like today, that provide important opportunities for diverse groups of professionals to come together and take a moment to reflect on what’s being done across the country, to discuss how we can remove barriers to access, and share some of the innovative ways in which we can tackle mental illness.

I was proud to provide counselling to people who were victims of crime, particularly where trauma was apparent. In these decades I learned and shared the values of compassion with my colleagues and worked to break the stigma that is often associated with mental health.

I also volunteered with several organizations dedicated to helping victims of crime and people struggling with mental illness. This included the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Suicide Prevention Committee in Moncton.

Through my work and my time as a volunteer, I saw first-hand the effects of trauma, stigma and problematic substance use on individuals.

But I also saw that some of these same individuals—when provided with appropriate supports and services—can survive and ultimately thrive.

Today, I would like to focus on three themes:

1. Discuss the state of mental health in Canada, both nationally and, more particularly, in Indigenous communities. 2. Share what the Government of Canada is doing to help Canadians access mental health supports and to address social inequities that influence health. 3. Call upon all of us to help end the stigma of mental illness, which prevents many from seeking help. 1- Current state of mental healthWhen it comes to mental health, the Canadian landscape is grim: • More than 10 Canadians die by suicide each day. • 1 in 3 Canadians report having experienced some form of maltreatment as a child-including physical abuse, sexual abuse or exposure to violence at home. o In fact, family violence accounts for more than a quarter of violent crimes reported to police. • Mental health issues affect not only individuals and families, but communities and society overall. It is estimated that depression and anxiety cost the Canadian economy almost $50 billion per year in lost productivity.These facts are a stark reminder to all of us of the work that remains…. work that cannot be done alone by any one government department or agency, charitable group or private organization. This is well-reflected in the theme of this conference: “It takes a nation.” I think that all […]

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