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How can mental health supports be improved? Timmins-James Bay candidates have some ideas

The federal election is Oct. 21
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Editor’s Note: For the 2019 federal election, TimminsToday teamed up with a journalism student to provide extra coverage on important issues. 

The interviews conducted during this Q and A series were done by Dana Simpson from Algonquin College in Ottawa. The issues and topics of discussion focused mainly on youth and young adults in Canada and the Timmins-James Bay riding. The answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Many of Ontario’s youth are struggling with mental health. What can you do to include to better support mental health and substance abuse issues in your community?

NDP Charlie Angus 

This is an issue that is close to my heart. In order to better help out the most vulnerable, we need to establish a national suicide action plan. On a regional level we have to push parliament to take action toward better resources providing support for addicts and their families. The opioid and fentanyl crisis is a medical emergency and we can’t wait for a suicide crisis to emerge before we act on that too.

Liberal Michelle Boileau 

Mental health is a privilege here for our youth especially because the Timmins-James Bay riding encompasses the coast where we see higher suicide rates and this is something that has to be addressed. We’re doing so by investing. Investing in our health care systems – which includes mental health – to make sure that people and youth have access to the mental health resources that they need in their communities. It’s a matter of working in collaboration with our organizations on the ground and being to able to identify what their needs are and ensuring that they have the resources required to support our youth within the region.

Conservative Kraymr Grenke

We’ve seen mental health issues on the rise, we’ve seen the epidemic of the opioid crisis. Fentanyl and parafentanyl are definitely prevalent things in our society right now. We need to make sure we’re investing in our healthcare and that people have the resources to be able to combat these addictions and these situations and have support

Green Max Kennedy 

It is one of the areas of healthcare that is by far, in a way, the least well understood and under serviced.  A lot of our drug abuse comes from a sense of hopelessness, we’ve already talked about generating an economy and we’re also looking at decriminalizing drugs. That means that users won’t be treated as criminals, they will be treated as a healthcare problem. Safe-use sites have been proven quite effectively in places like Vancouver, Toronto for a great deal of harm reduction. Having these sites where there is a safe and analyzed supply that people can go to is one of the most immediate things that I would be looking at establishing locally.

PPC Renaud Roy 

I intend to push for the formation of federal special task force teams to travel across the nation at the request of communities. These teams of different experts in their respective fields will educate, train and mentor community organizations to be more efficient in accomplishing their vision and goals.

Other topics in the Q&A series are: access to healthy food, youth homelessness, youth jobs, how to make students feel safer, support for LGBTQ+ youth, and support for the local ecosystem.

The federal election is Oct. 21. More local coverage is available here.