Updated: Apr 6
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath announced a key pillar of her party’s platform at an event in Toronto on Sunday.
She said her party would expand OHIP coverage to include universal mental health care and work to remove barriers to access if it wins election in June.
The policy would include free access to counselling and therapy services not currently covered.
While some forms of mental health treatment are covered by the province, such as treatment by a psychiatrist or by a psychologist or social worker within a hospital, services such as private psychotherapy or counselling are not.
“Mental health care is health care,” Horwath said in a statement. “And together, we can do so much better. We can take action to fix it — so in Ontario, you’ll get mental health care with your OHIP card, not your credit card.”
Horwath said existing community mental health providers would be the first to be brought into the plan and offered public funding. OHIP would be amended to allow a maximum of six therapy sessions, rising to 12 for patients who need it, the NDP said.
The party said it will also introduce legislation to recognize mental health as equally important to physical health.
“Friends, we know mental health is every bit as important to our wellbeing as physical health,” Horwath told supporters. “We know the pain is just as real as physical pain.”
The Ontario NDP also said it would reduce the waitlist for children seeking mental health support to 30 days. The party said the current wait time is two months for children who want counselling. Despite the announcement, Ontario's deficit is expected to rise even higher in 2022 to 13 billion.