DNSSAB Chair Mark King is concerned the North East LHIN is not tracking wait lists for services involving mental health and addictions. This comes after a report from Health Quality Ontario showed that Northeastern Ontario has three times the suicide rate compared to the rest of Ontario. Despite that, King says the LHIN isn’t tracking demand for services. King says the provincial average for suicide rates among single men is about 379, in Northeastern Ontario that number jumps to over 1,000.
King says the numbers are staggering, and it’s an urgent community issue in the Nipissing area given the cuts to regional healthcare services and the lack of access to doctors. He says it has the potential to reach a crisis situation because the same urgency for mental health issues isn’t being applied case by case. King says they know that people with extreme mental health issues are looked after. But King says there a whole bunch of people out there that have mental health issues that aren’t on the extreme, and they’ve somehow gone through the system.
King says MPP Vic Fedeli has been made aware of this issue, and is raising it with the Minister of Health. Fedeli says he’s alarmed and extremely concerned by this report, but given the Provincial Auditors failing grade when auditing the Northeast LHIN, this isn’t surprising. King says the DNSSAB was looking for information about a mental health wait list to ensure clients are connected to the most appropriate resources in the community. He says connecting clients to services is a proactive role they take seriously in serving the Nipissing District, and they have recently divided their caseload by client needs to improve our focus on better service. King says the LHIN has referred them to a sub-table, yet the LHIN sub-table has referred staff back to the LHIN.
Data from the report indicates timely access to mental health and addictions services is the number one barrier for individuals requiring these services. According to the Health Quality Ontario data, the North East LHIN region also has considerably higher potential for years of life lost due to avoidable deaths at 4,763 years per 100,000 people. Province-wide, this number is at 3,243 per 100,000. King finished by asking how many people have to die in Northern Ontario, before someone stands up and says the healthcare system needs to be held accountable.