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July 18, 2017

Premiers gather with nurses unions & Mental Health Commission for health briefing

Council of the Federation

Briefing entitled Access through Innovation: Maximizing Federal Mental Health Funding

(Tuesday July 18, 2017 – EDMONTON) – The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) co-hosted this morning a premiers’ breakfast briefing on mental health care with the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Premier of Alberta as part of this week’s premiers’ summit in Edmonton.

The briefing featured two speakers who have dedicated much of their careers to improving mental health care in Canada. Hon. Michael Kirby is a former Senator and current Founding Chair of Partners for Mental Health, and Tazz Norris (a.k.a. Big Daddy Tazz) is a Canadian mental health motivational speaker.

The premiers heard statistics showing that 20% of Canadian children and youth will develop a mental illness by age 25, 43% of Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness over the course of their lifetime, and 50% of family doctors’ time is spent addressing mental health issues or illnesses. As well, mental illness costs the Canadian economy upwards of $50 billion per year.

“Over the coming years, the federal government will invest over $5 billion in targeted funding for mental health services delivered by the provinces and territories,” said Linda Silas, President of the CFNU. “As nurses working with patients and families, we believe it is crucial that these public dollars be invested effectively on innovative approaches to improve access to appropriate mental health services.”

“In the wake of the new federal investment, provinces have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to level the playing field and put mental health care on an equal footing with physical health care,” said Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the MHCC. “The lasting result will be an acknowledgement that both are equally legitimate and equally worthy of treatment.”

“I have lived with the twin challenges of a diagnosed mental illness and the overwhelming stigma that accompanies mental illness,” said Tazz, who retold his struggles and triumphs with mental illness to premiers. “I can tell you from experience that Canadians are in desperate need of better, timelier access to quality and appropriate mental health services.”

“The most important, and cost-effective, innovation in mental health is to provide psychotherapy to all, starting with children and youth,” said Kirby, who briefed premiers on needed innovations to mental health care. “This innovation would enable young Canadians to overcome mental illness by early adulthood and, as a result, would save governments millions of dollars.” Kirby was Chair of the Senate Committee which authored the 2006 ground-breaking report Out of the Shadows: Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction Services in Canada.

“The CFNU will continue to work with federal, provincial and territorial governments to improve public health care services for all people living in Canada,” committed Silas.

Read the CFNU Mental Health Fact Sheet




For more information, please contact:

Dave Cournoyer, Communications Advisor for United Nurses of Alberta, at 780-913-1563 or

Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan, Government Relations Officer for the CFNU, at 613-513-7754 or