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The Foundations for Promoting and Protecting Mental Health and Addictions Services Act

Backgrounder

The Foundations for Promoting and Protecting Mental Health and Addictions Services Act

Ministry of Health

Mental health is an essential element of health. For too long, the lack of attention to and investment in the mental health and addictions system has led to unnecessary delays in accessing high-quality mental health care or addictions support.

If passed, the Foundations for Promoting and Protecting Mental Health and Addictions Services Act would:

  • Establish within Ontario Health a Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence; and
  • Support Ontario's participation in the national class action lawsuit British Columbia launched last year against more than 40 opioid manufacturers and wholesalers.

Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence

Establishing a Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence within Ontario Health is critical first step in laying the foundation on which the province will develop and maintain a mental health and addictions strategy. This strategy will recognize that mental health and addictions care is a core component of an integrated health care system.

Under the proposed legislation, the Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence would carry out the following:

  • Put into operation the mental health and addictions strategy;
  • Develop clinical, quality and service standards for mental health and addictions;
  • Monitor metrics related to the performance of the mental health and addictions system;
  • Provide resources and support to health service providers, integrated care delivery systems and others related to mental health and addictions; and
  • Any other functions that the Minister may direct.

Ontario Health will comply with the requirements, if any, provided for in the regulations with respect to its Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence. Ontario Health will include as part of any annual reports it prepares, in accordance with such directives as may be issued from the Management Board of Cabinet from time to time, information respecting the functions carried out through the Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence.

National Class Action Opioid Lawsuit

If passed, the Foundations for Promoting and Protecting Mental Health and Addictions Services Act would allow Ontario's Government for the People to sue opioid manufacturers and wholesalers for their alleged wrongdoing in order to recover past, present and future health care costs due to opioid-related disease, injury or illness.

The Act would create a series of special rules to assist the litigation process and support Ontario's participation in a national class action lawsuit British Columbia launched in August 2018 against more than 40 opioid manufacturers and wholesalers, on behalf of provincial, territorial, and federal governments. 

The British Columbia class action alleges that these opioid manufacturers and wholesalers failed to warn doctors and the public of the dangers of opioids and marketed them as safer and less addictive than other medications when they were not.

The proposed legislation would also give Ontario the right to bring an individual or a multi-government class action claim in the future, if it decides to do so.

In October 2018, British Columbia enacted the Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act to support the class action. If the class action is certified, any Canadian federal, provincial or territorial government that does not want to participate must take active steps to opt out.

British Columbia has not yet disclosed an expectation for damages, stating that the figure will emerge in the course of the proceedings.

Ontario intends to invest any award from this litigation directly into frontline mental health and addiction services.

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