Message from the Board Chair

The 2016-2017 fiscal year marks the 10th anniversary of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). In a watershed moment, the MHCC is reflecting on a decade of achievement, while moving forward to address the new challenges entrusted to us by Health Canada.

In late 2016, the MHCC joined forces with other leading mental health organizations to raise awareness about the importance of dedicated mental health funding. An open letter we co-signed with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health garnered national media attention. Meanwhile, further efforts to support targeted transfers in the Health Accord – such as Louise Bradley’s thought provoking editorials in the Hill Times and the Ottawa Citizen – were harbingers of the tremendous progress on the horizon.

Now, the question isn’t if we should fund mental health, but rather where those funds should flow. In our role as trusted partner to governments at all levels, the MHCC was able to articulate the importance of investing in evidence-based programs and initiatives, which produce improved mental health outcomes and have the potential for governments to recoup some of their spending. The pan-Canadian media reporting on the MHCC’s landmark 2017 report, Strengthening the Case for Investing in Canada’s Mental Health System: Economic Considerations, points to the appetite for our critical work to bridge the gaps between research and implementation.

In fact, “bridging the gap” is the theme of this year’s report. The MHCC has made a concerted effort to build strong relationships within the federal government and across the provinces and territories in order to facilitate knowledge-exchange, share best practices and drive home
the need for an unflagging commitment to mental health from decision-makers of all levels.

We applaud the federal government’s dedication to building a nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The urgent mental wellness needs of Indigenous peoples requires all of us to re-learn our history from the perspective of those whose cultures, kinships and connections to the land have been devastated by assimilationist policies.

At the MHCC, we have begun our own journey of reconciliation, which will inform our ability to partner and align more effectively with Indigenous nations. A vital component of this effort is building cultural competencies within our organization. We are giving voice to Indigenous issues through comprehensive representation from Board Directors with demonstrated success in this area. In 2016, we doubled our Indigenous representation, while reducing the overall size of the Board.

On a personal level, I understand that competing priorities require elected officials and their policy advisors to make hard choices. That is precisely why the MHCC is knocking on doors, making important appearances at parliamentary mental health working groups and Senate committees, and bolstering the growing political will that will ultimately lead to a more responsive, flexible and coordinated system of mental health care.

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The Honourable Michael Wilson, P.C., C.C.
Board Chair, Mental Health Commission of Canada