New cabinet position highlights need for more affordable mental health supports

Canada’s $4.5 billion budget for mental health needs to prioritize affordability

The Federal Minister of Mental Health, Carolyn Bennet. (Liberal Party of Canada)

The Federal Minister of Mental Health, Carolyn Bennet. (Liberal Party of Canada)


During the Cabinet shuffle after the federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Carolyn Bennett as the first federal minister of mental health and addiction, after she previously served as Crown-Indigenous relations. This is a major milestone and definitely promising when we think of the potential change that could come with this.

Bennett is to oversee the rolling out of $4.5 billion in funding for federal mental health transfers to the provinces and territories over the next five years. The transfers and money are for new, free, and accessible mental health services. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic, mental wellbeing and health have been a struggle many have had to deal with, and more Canadians than ever are trying to access services that can help them feel better. Many people have acknowledged the increase in anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses during these last two years. But there are a limited number of services available for support that people can afford. 

Getting more services available to people who may not be covered by insurance and making these things affordable for those who cannot pay hundreds of dollars for the support they need and deserve should be the first priority with government funding. 

Mental health affects more than just our minds. When our minds are not in a healthy place, it can affect our physical health as well. There are likely more people than we think struggling with mental wellbeing, and it should be seen the same way as going to the doctor for a physical health concern, which is encouraged and accepted on a regular basis.

Mental health should not be a shameful or taboo topic, especially as a student. University is tough, and sometimes that stress is overwhelming. Most schools have services that provide support for students. The problem is that most university counsellors aren’t trained for stresses of life that may be affecting a student outside of school, or they may refer a student to services outside of the university, which then comes with a cost.

As a student, we already have a lot of costs like tuition and books. People that want to get help should be able to do so without the burden of financial stress. 

It doesn’t help that mental health is stigmatized. We shouldn’t have to worry about social stigma or finances when we need to talk to someone. 

We should and need to normalize talking about mental health and have more services that are accessible and affordable, especially for those who may not be covered by insurance or cannot afford the support. Everyone deserves to have their well-being looked after, and creating a new ministry position is a productive step towards making this possible.