While the election results may seem like not much has changed since the 2019 federal election, that’s not the case when it comes to perinatal mental health.
In 2019, the CPMHC asked all parties where they stood on developing a National Perinatal Mental Health Strategy. While we received a letter back from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh committing to a national strategy and vague responses on mental health from the other parties, none of them contained perinatal mental health in their election platforms.
For the following two years we worked tirelessly to educate and inform MPs of all party stripes about the need for a national strategy. We started with an E-Petition to Parliament, the first of its kind, calling for a a national strategy and we were able to get a Unanimous Motion in the House of Commons whereby all parties committed – in theory – to the need for a National Perinatal Mental Health Strategy. Topping that success was the introduction of a Private Members’ Bill, Bill C-306 by MP Don Davies, calling specifically, for a National Perinatal Mental Health Strategy.
We were going strong with garnering support for the Bill until Bill C-306 died when the election was called on August 25th. But our efforts were not in vain as we managed to raise the political and public profile of perinatal mental health.
The election campaign this time around was extremely short at 35 days but in those 35 days, the CPMHC worked hard to get perinatal mental health onto the party platforms.
We drafted a concise Platform Proposal that documented the issue and benefits of having a national strategy and sent it to each party. We worked tirelessly behind the scenes, having meetings with MPs, explaining the importance of perinatal mental health.
We held a training webinar and had volunteers attend virtual All Candidates Meetings to ask their riding candidates a question on perinatal mental health.
We consider the fact that we were able to get perinatal mental health specifically onto two major party platforms a tremendous success!
While the NDP said in their platform that they believe “no new parent should struggle alone – it’s time for a national perinatal mental health strategy to support growing families before and after birth,” the Liberals in their platform promised to “work with partners to ensure timely access to perinatal mental health services.”
The Conservative Party said they would “support maternal and newborn health and extend paid leave for women who suffer miscarriage or stillbirth.”
ALL parties talked about the need for increased mental health supports and for that we are inspired and encouraged that perinatal mental health will see action sooner rather than later.
So what do the election results mean for perinatal mental health? The election results mean increased awareness and attention to perinatal mental health in a more tangible way than in the previous election and you bet we’ll be holding all parties to account on their promises – starting NOW.