Ottawa – The national mental health coalition Canadians for Equitable Access to Depression Medication (CEADM) applauds today’s call for parity by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). In its just-released report Mental Health in the Balance: Ending the Health Care Disparity in Canada, CMHA is calling on the Government of Canada to introduce legislation to ensure that mental health and the treatment of mental illness is as valuable, worthwhile and accessible as physical health and treatment.
CMHA’s call for treatment parity aligns with CEADM’s two-year advocacy campaign to underscore the systemic inequities faced by Canadians accessing innovative depression medications. CEADM could not agree more strongly with CMHA’s assertion that “parity is not only about better funding for services, but it is also about setting and achieving high standards in all aspects of mental health-care delivery, from health promotion to treatment to research.”
Since 2004, inequitable access to depression medication was juxtaposed to medicines developed for other non-mental health illnesses. In a May 2, 2017, Globe and Mail article, “100 per cent of new antidepressants have fallen short of [CADTH’s] final approval, according to a [February] 2017 Canadian Health Policy report. By comparison, about 50 per cent of drugs for physical conditions have been approved.” CMHA’s call for parity in health care in Canada is another rebuke that mental health care in Canada must be brought into balance.
Like CMHA, CEADM celebrates the federal government’s investment in 2017 of $5 billion to support mental health programs over 10 years. Yet, many Canadians without access to a privately funded drug plan continue daily to face the choice between paying for groceries or their medication. No Canadian should have to make such a choice.
“The federal and provincial/territorial governments have still not addressed the inequity that prevents Canadians from accessing the latest innovative depression medications, which are not covered under the public drug plan system,” said Brianne Moore, CEADM’s national co-chair and a woman with lived experience of borderline personality disorder, persistent depressive disorder and generalized anxiety. Moore further stated, “Enacting CMHA’s call for mental health care to be funded on par with physical health care and in proportion to the burden of illness would mark the beginning of true equity for all.”
CEADM urges the Government of Canada to carefully consider CMHA’s recommendation to introduce the Mental Health Parity Act in Canada’s 42nd Parliament.