PASS BILL C-306

On June 3rd, 2021, Vancouver-Kingsway NDP MP and Health Critic, Don Davies introduced his Private Member’s Bill: THE NATIONAL PERINATAL MENTAL HEALTH STRATEGY ACT in the House of Commons!

The Bill was seconded by MP Heather McPherson who has been a strong supporter of our efforts for a national strategy.

Bill C-306 An Act respecting the development of a national perinatal mental health strategy has now officially been introduced and passed First Reading.

This is incredible news! But we need the Bill to Pass! Join us in writing to your MP to ask them to Vote “YEA” (yes) to the Bill when it reaches Second Reading! We don’t know when that will be yet, but we will update you as soon as we find out.

WRITE YOUR MP

Here’s the video of MP Don Davies, the NDP Health Critic, introducing the Bill: https://www.youtube.com/embed/oh0ncJuZypM?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent

Here’s the video of the Press Conference that followed on June 4th: https://www.cpac.ca/en/programs/covid-19-canada-responds/episodes/66388495

Here is what BILL C-306 ~ An Act respecting the development of a national perinatal mental health strategy is calling for:

The strategy must include measures to:

(a) provide universal access to perinatal mental health screening during pregnancy and the postpartum period;

(b) ensure timely access to specialist perinatal mental health care services and treatments during pregnancy and the postpartum period;

(c) expand the availability of specialist perinatal mental health community care;

(d) increase public and professional awareness of the frequency, impact and treatment of perinatal mental health disorders;

(e) improve training for health care professionals with respect to perinatal mental health;

(f) ensure access to culturally relevant perinatal mental health care services and treatment options;

(g) ensure access to gender-affirming and inclusive perinatal mental health care services and treatment options;

(h) support the provision of trauma-informed care in the perinatal period;

(i) address the social determinants of perinatal mental health;

(j) reduce barriers to accessing perinatal mental health services;

(k) combat stigma with respect to perinatal mental health; and

(l) promote research on perinatal mental health in Canada.

Reports to Parliament

Tabling of national strategy

Within one year after the day on which this Act comes into force, the Minister must prepare a report setting out the national strategy and cause it to be tabled in each House of Parliament on any of the first 15 days on which that House is sitting after it is completed.

Publication

The Minister must publish the report on the website of the Department of Health within 10 days after it has been tabled in both Houses of Parliament.

Report

Within two years after the report referred to in section 4 has been tabled in both Houses of Parliament, and every five years after that, the Minister must, in consultation with the parties referred to in subsection 3(2), prepare a report on the effectiveness of the national strategy that sets out the Minister’s conclusions and recommendations, and cause the report to be tabled in each House of Parliament on any of the first 15 days on which that House is sitting after it is completed.

https://parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/43-2/bill/C-306/first-reading

#PASSBILLC306

On May 5th, 2021, World Maternal Mental Health Day, MP Heather McPherson presented a Motion in the House of Commons to support a National Perinatal Mental Health Strategy and guess what –  all parties UNANIMOUSLY agreed to it!

BUT… (and there’s a big but)…the Motion isn’t a binding requirement on the government to act, meaning, just because they say they support a national strategy, that doesn’t mean they have to do anything about it until an actual Bill is created and brought forward.

SO…we need to make sure each and every MP knows that a National Perinatal Mental Health Strategy is IMPORTANT to their constituents (that’s YOU!) and that we need a Bill to make it happen NOW! We’ve made it super easy for you to send a letter to your MP. Just fill out the form HERE and click SEND!

#TimeForActionhttps://www.youtube.com/embed/QyWVgLvleLo?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent

Read our national report, Time For Action: Why Canada Needs A Perinatal Mental Health Strategy Now More Than Ever which was sent to the Government of Canada and each Member of Parliament on May 5th, 2021, World Maternal Mental Health Day. The report contains the findings of our Health Care Provider Survey, the first-of-its-kind in Canada, which contains our 15 recommendations for improving perinatal mental health care across all jurisdictions.

Our Survey findings show a vital need for a national perinatal mental health strategy to address gaps in screening and treatment, particularly now that rates of postpartum depression have doubled since the start of the pandemic.

The full survey results were revealed during a live online press conference on May 5th, 2021 at 11 am ET featuring the CPMHC along with Alberta MP Heather McPherson, Ontario MPP Bhutila Karpoche, and mom, Candice Thomas who shared her experience of giving birth during a pandemic.

Our report was released on May 5th during the morning session (10:30 am – Noon) of a joint Ludmer Center/CPMHC virtual online symposium. A review of perinatal mental health best practices from Dr. Alain Grégoire, Dr. Simone Vigod, and more experts followed in the afternoon (12:30 pm – 2 pm).

Critical survey findings include:

●      95.8% of health care practitioners believe that perinatal mental health services are insufficient in Canada;

●      87% of health care practitioners in Canada do not have mandated screening for perinatal mental illness at their workplace;

●      When people are screened and have symptoms indicative of needing intervention, 27% of health care practitioners indicated that patients were able to access their referral within a month, 31% waited between 1-2 months, while 42% had to wait for >2 months for access;

●      Perinatal mental health services differ across health regions. More than half of health care practitioners surveyed (57.3%) reported that they have not received specialized training in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders or were unsure if they received specialized training.

●      87% of practitioners believe people from diverse backgrounds encounter barriers to accessing perinatal services. These include language, cultural, and cost barriers. 

●      69% of practitioners reported that COVID-19 has complicated access to care, including reduced in-person visits and overall services.

Here are our top 5 recommendations:

1. Legislation that provides clear guidelines for clinicians through a national perinatal mental health strategy that prioritizes equitable health care across all Canadian jurisdictions.

2. Targeted perinatal mental health care funding allocated to each province and territory to administer perinatal mental health programs. 

3. Mandated universal perinatal mental health screening at regular intervals from conception to one year postpartum and beyond as well as timely access to treatment.

4. The implementation of a comprehensive perinatal mental health curriculum directly into medical syllabuses (in schools of medicine, nursing, and allied health) and ongoing training for front line health care practitioners.

5. The investment in culturally sensitive, accessible and patient-oriented treatment solutions. For all of our recommendations, please refer to our Report: Time for Action. 

We look forward to continued dialogue with MPs across Canada and we have requested a meeting with the Health Minister Patty Hajdu and are hoping she will accept our invitation. 

At the time our report was being written, we initiated a meeting with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and were thrilled to learn that they were very familiar with the CPMHC and were planning on supporting our call for a national perinatal mental health strategy in their own recommendations for a policy brief released in mid-May 2021.