09/23/2019 16:48 EDT

Climate Change Crisis Is Affecting Canadians' Mental-Health: Green Party

Elizabeth May's party has released a plan to help people get mental-health care.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May joins climate change activists and students as they gather in Calgary on Sept. 20, 2019.

FREDERICTON — Anxiety about political instability and the looming climate crisis are placing new strains on Canadians’ mental well-being, the federal Green party says.

The Greens outlined a plan Monday to break down barriers — including insufficient funding and erosion of universal care — they say prevent many people from getting the mental-health care they need.

Green Leader Elizabeth May took the message to Fredericton as part of a push for votes in Atlantic Canada, a region where the party hopes to make a breakthrough in the Oct. 21 election.

Watch: Green party says every policy in its platform is viewed through climate crisis. Story continues below.

May attended a rally in the New Brunswick capital in support of Jenica Atwin, a researcher and program co-ordinator for a First Nations education organization.

The party wants to prioritize expansion of mental-health and rehabilitation services, reduce wait times for assistance programs and put more money into mental-health services in rural and remote areas.

The Greens would also examine climate change-related mental illnesses caused by trauma from natural disasters and extreme weather and the resulting stressful displacement of families.

 “Canadians are worried about the future of their country and the world,” May said in a statement. “It’s time to make mental health a primary health concern.”

The plan includes mobilizing mental-health organizations to prevent illness and suicide caused by anxieties stemming from societal problems such as social isolation and expensive housing.

The ability of provinces to deliver adequate levels of care through the Canada Health Act depends on funding transfers from Ottawa, the party 

It argues these transfers have not kept pace with rapidly changing demographics and the emerging crises of mental illness and addiction. At the same time, the Greens say, private health clinics, including blood services, represent a creeping two-tiered system, eroding the universal primary model.

“Universal health care is under attack,” said May. “The Green party will fight for mental health care for all Canadians.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2019.