Grande Prairie—Mackenzie MP Chris Warkentin is urging federal Cabinet Minister of Health Patty Hadju to find funding to consolidate existing suicide prevention services into one national, three-digit phone number.
The motion, which was tabled by Cariboo—Prince George MP Todd Doherty, would see the three-digit hotline, suggested to be 9-8-8, become a legislated mandate across Canada. Warkentin says while protecting the mental health of Canadians is always important to MPs on both sides of the aisle, the COVID-19 pandemic has made things substantially worse for many Canadians.
“With people losing their jobs, and being away from people, we have seen locally the struggles that Peace Country residents have been facing with regards to mental health,” he says. “It’s gripping not only our community, but it also’s gripping families across the country, and my colleagues and I believe it’s time we step forward to build a national outreach hotline to ensure those people that are struggling know that there is a resource they can call.”
Warkentin adds while the hotline would not fix everything, it would be one more tool to ensure people have at least one resource to go to and know they can access regardless of where they are in the country. He says he has appreciated the non-partisan approach to the motion thus far but argues more needs to be done.
“We are happy at least the minister isn’t dismissing our suggestion, but what we would like her to do is go further and allocate some resources to making this happen.”
It’s not yet known when the motion may make its way to the House of Commons for a vote.