Politics

Tom Mulcair lays out NDP plan to improve youth mental-health care

In his fourth health care-related announcement in three days, leader Tom Mulcair vows an NDP government would commit $100 million to improve mental-health services for young people.

NDP leader has made health-care spending commitments a central part of his campaign

Mulcair hopes to reduce wait times for mental health services. 2:13

In his fourth health care-related announcement in three days, leader Tom Mulcair vowed today that an NDP government would commit $100 million to improve mental-health services for young people. 

Mulcair, during a campaign stop in the Conservative stronghold of Lethbridge, Alta., on Tuesday, said the money would be used to establish a mental-health innovation fund for children and youth.

The fund would provide $15 million per year, over four years, to develop and implement best practices among health-care providers to reduce wait times and optimize current services. 

Another $10 million per year, over four years, would be dedicated to research and information sharing.

In a release accompanying the announcement, the NDP cited Mental Health Commission of Canada statistics indicating nearly 1.5 million Canadians under 24 who are living with mental illness do not have access to proper care or treatment.

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The commission has found that addressing childhood mental-health issues can lead to lifetime health-care savings of up to $140,000 — which can be applied elsewhere in the health-care system.

Tuesday's announcement comes after the NDP pledged nearly $2.5 billion in new funding for seniors, the hiring of more health-care providers and development of a strategy to better treat people living with Alzheimer's and dementia. The commitments are part of Mulcair's effort to distinguish himself from his political rivals by putting health care atop the campaign agenda ahead of the Oct. 19 vote. 

The NDP leader also previously promised to use any budget surpluses to reverse the Conservative plan to slow the rate of increases of federal health-care transfers — which could mean up to $36 billion less for the provinces over the next 10 years. 

With his health-care announcements, Mulcair has faced growing pressure to explain how he plans to pay for his costly promises while maintaining his commitment to balance the books.

Mulcair says the NDP will put forward a financial breakdown ahead of Thursday's economy-themed debate. He called on Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to do the same.

Mobile users, follow the live blog here.

With files from CBC's Evan Dyer

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