Governments Protecting the Mental Health of Ontario Farmers

Nov 22, 2021

New investments in mental-health programs to help farm families

Speaking virtually to delegates at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture annual general meeting on Monday, Lisa Thompson announced two new mental-health programs for Canadian producers.

Thompson, the Ontario minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, said she was pleased that the governments of Canada and Ontario would be allocating more than $7 million through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership in the multi-year initiatives.

In a release from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Thompson said that she “understand(s) and appreciate(s) how stressful running a farm can be, working 365 days a year and dealing with unpredictable weather, commodity prices and increasing costs of production.

“Add in the pandemic, and these pressures are having a real effect on the mental health of farmers and their families,

“That’s why our government is providing the necessary funding for these programs, and is committed to doing everything we can to help address these challenges and support mental health in our farming communities.”

According to the release, the Guardians Network and a new program modelled after the successful Farmer Wellness Program pioneered by mental health specialist Deborah Vanberkel, will help protect Ontario’s progress in the fight against COVID-19 by providing farm families across the province with free counselling services as well as help connect at-risk farmers with tailored support and resources.

The programs are expected to launch early in 2022 and will be developed in consultation with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), the OFA and other mental health sector experts.

“For the past 20 months, Ontario’s farming community have been forced to adapt to the many challenges and incredible pressures brought on by the pandemic, leading to significant impacts on mental health,” said Michael Tibollo, associate minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

“This investment will ensure our farmers and their families have faster, easier access to the highest quality mental health and addictions supports that meet their unique needs, when and where they need them.”

OMAFRA News Release

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