9-8-8 Hotline: A Hard-Fought Win For Mental Health

After 600+ days of inexplicable delays amid continuous pressure from myself and my fellow Conservative MPs, we finally have a suicide prevention hotline.

On August 31st, the CRTC approved 9-8-8 as the suicide prevention hotline across Canada, nearly two years after the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion to designate it. The CRTC further announced that it will be implemented and accessible to Canadians by November 2023.

This news is both encouraging and sobering.

I’m proud to say it was one of my colleagues, Todd Doherty from Cariboo-Prince George, BC, who put forward this motion and has been a relentless champion for it. And now that it’s finally getting done, I’m encouraged by the fact that, with determination and follow-through, government can do the right thing.

However, it’s sobering that it took this long when no one was opposed to it. Though I wasn’t part of the caucus that motioned and voted for it, I made it part of my campaign promises in the fall of 2021 that I would do whatever I could to apply pressure to get it done.

It’s enough to ask the question, why didn’t the Liberal government, who unanimously supported the motion, put pressure on regulators to act faster? Especially considering the enormous spike in mental health problems and deaths by suicide we saw throughout the pandemic.

It’s also sobering that, though approved, Canadians will still have to wait more than a year from now for implementation. I understand that it takes time to put infrastructure, resources, and procedures in place. But without the past two years of delays, we could be looking at implementation now.

And we need it now.

Eleven Canadians die by suicide each and every day, with another 250 attempting to end their own lives. The delays now mean that over 900 days will have passed from first motion to providing real help, a fact that casts a shadow over this victory.

For me, this is a both a reminder that government can still get the job done, but also that it’s time for Canada to elect a leader and team that won’t waste so much time just talking about solutions.

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