Needless to say, we at the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative are overjoyed that Ms Bhutila Karpoche, Parkdale-High Park MPP and Ontario NDP critic for mental health and addictions, has tabled a bill calling for the provincial government to review maternal mental health in Ontario and develop and implement an action plan.
“The Bill requires the Minister of Health to conduct a comprehensive review of maternal mental health in Ontario and prepare a Provincial Framework and Action Plan on the issue. The Bill requires the Minister to report to the Assembly periodically about the progress of the review and to table the Provincial Framework and Action Plan in the Assembly.” – Legislative Assembly of Ontario
We support her 100% and will be doing everything we can to make sure this bill passes.
The CPMHC had a chance to briefly chat with Ms Karpoche in December shortly after she rose in the legislature with her newborn baby to talk about maternal mental health.
This was our lovely conversation with her:
CPMHC: Congratulations on your baby! When was he born? Is this your first child?
Ms Karpoche: Thank you! My newborn is three months old, and he is my second child. My first child – his proud big sister — is four years old.
CPMHC: What prompted you to rise in the legislature and speak on behalf of moms and the importance of maternal mental health? Have you ever experienced a maternal mental health issue/illness?
Ms Karpoche: As a mother, I know first hand the postpartum stresses we experience. Being the mother of newborn while serving as an elected member of the Ontario legislature gave me a unique opportunity to shine a light on this important issue, which is too often overlooked. I am fortunate to have this platform and wanted to give maternal mental health the attention it needs.
CPMHC: Advocates are calling for universal perinatal mental health screening and better access to treatment. Do you agree and will you be working to improve perinatal mental health care in Ontario?
Ms Karpoche: New moms and moms-to-be shouldn’t have to struggle in silence with mental health issues. Screening could help women and their health care providers identify these concerns sooner, and we need to make sure treatment is readily available when this happens. The Ontario NDP supports better access to perinatal mental health screening and treatment, and I am committed to leading the way as a new mom and the party’s critic for mental health.
CPMHC: Do you agree with NDP federal party leader, Mr. Jagmeet Singh that Canada requires a national perinatal mental health strategy?
Ms Karpoche: I was so happy to see Jagmeet express his support for a national perinatal mental health strategy. Being a new mom can be an incredibly joyful time, but it can also be an incredibly isolating and stressful time. Too many new moms who are suffering from poor mental health continue to fall through the cracks, and a national strategy could help create a safety net.
Thank you for your support Ms Karpoche! We look forward to supporting you every step of the way!
So what happens now?
The first reading of the bill was carried on February 25th. No word yet on when the bill will go to committee. Following that, the bill will move on to second reading and if it passes, will go to committee once again, then third reading and hopefully Royal Assent.
Ms Karpoche’s bill also proposes declaring the first Wednesday of May, Maternal Mental Health Day in Ontario. Of course we support that too and are working diligently across Canada to have cities and provinces and the country in declaring May 2-10th, World Maternal Mental Health Week. Our amazing volunteers are planning awareness walks across the country and we hope to have Ms Karpoche speak at our walk in Toronto on May 2nd.
Stay tuned for more details and if you would like to organize a walk in your community, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about Bill 176, Maternal Mental Health Act, 2020: https://www.ontariondp.ca/news/ndp-mpp-tables-bill-establish-maternal-mental-health-strategy-ontario