May 09, 2006

The Canadian Senate recommend building 57,000 housing units for the mentally ill to be paid for by a 5 cent alcohol drink tax.

You can read the story here But I will copy and paste it in the extended entry part of this post as the link may disappear.

Senate committee recommends nickel-a-drink tax hike for mentally ill

Tue May 09, 03:41 PM EST
OTTAWA (CP) - Canadians should pay a nickel a drink to help the mentally ill, says the Senate social affairs committee.

After three years' work and consultation, the committee is calling on the government to invest half a billion dollars annually in support and housing for people with mental illness, paying for it with a tax on alcoholic drinks. In a report Tuesday, the committee recommended the creation of a national agency to help the mentally ill, and 57,000 affordable housing units for people living with mental illness.

"The stories we heard moved us to tears," said Liberal Senator Michael Kirby, chair of the committee.

"They also angered us because it shows clearly how little governments have done over the years for people living with a mental illness.

"Canadians living with mental illness confront a confusing, fragmented and under-resourced system. The situation is so bad that only one third of the people receive professional help."

The committee has already made public its key recommendation, the creation of a Canadian Mental Health Commission. The previous Liberal government said it would move on the idea but the Conservatives haven't stated their intentions.

Health Minister Tony Clement said Tuesday he would need time to study the committee's 118 recommendations.

"We can no longer tolerate a situation in which governments place mental health issues on a permanent back burner," said Kirby.

The report reaffirms the view, which has become generally accepted in the last few decades, that people with psychiatric problems can be treated more effectively in their communities than in institutions.

But Kirby said there has been a failure to provide community services for people who were once kept in hospitals.

"The reality is that in Canada today the homeless and prisons have become the asylums of the 21st Century. We moved people out of institutions without having the other care facilities available for them.

"The data show very clearly that the percentage of homeless with a mental illness is very high."

Kirby said a national agency makes sense even though health is under provincial jurisdiction.

"This is not a federal government issue. This is an issue of trying to get all the players together to help get it done."

The committee proposes a five-cent increase in the excise tax on alcoholic drinks - a nickel a beer, 25 cents for a bottle of wine - to fund mental-health initiatives.

The proposed new agency would undertake a 10-year campaign to combat discrimination against the mentally ill.

The report says a fifth of the population will experience mental illness at some point.

Posted by petert at May 9, 2006 10:21 PM


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