TORONTO – The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing more than $8 million to support the mental health and wellness of farmers and their families.
With this commitment, the Farmer Wellness Initiative, the In the Know program and the Guardian Network will continue to be available to everyone who needs them. These initiatives are designed to meet the unique mental health needs of farmers and their families and are delivered by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division.
“Our farmers and their families face unique challenges, often due to forces that are beyond their control. This can have a severe impact on their mental health, and we will continue to invest in targeted initiatives to support them,” said the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “By increasing awareness of the resources that are available, we can provide crucial support to our farming communities when they need it most.”
“A life in agriculture is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, but it also comes with unique stressors and challenges,” said Lisa Thompson, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “This investment will ensure the right resources are in place to support Ontario’s hardworking agriculture community when and where they need it.”
To ensure more people in the agricultural community know about the supports available to them, a new promotional initiative is being launched called the Sowing the Seeds of Wellness Initiative. It will make promotional materials available to eligible general farm and commodity organizations for use and display at member events. Funding will also be available over the next two years so organizations can produce customized materials, engage speakers, and/or develop other promotional activities that will provide farmers and their families with mental health-related information.
“Through the Roadmap to Wellness, we are making it possible for everyone in Ontario to access timely and low-barrier mental health services,” said Michael Tibollo, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Farmers work day-in and day-out to provide the resources we all need, so they deserve our full support. This investment is another example of how our government is building a mental health system designed to provide high-quality care in every community across the province – not just in urban centers.”
Funding for these initiatives primarily comes from the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP.) Sustainable CAP is a five-year (2023-2028), $3.5-billion investment by federal‐provincial and territorial governments to strengthen competitiveness, innovation, and resiliency of the agriculture, agri‐food and agri‐based products sector. This includes $1 billion in federal programs and activities and a $2.5 billion commitment that is cost-shared 60 per cent federally and 40 per cent provincially/territorially for programs that are designed and delivered by the provinces and territories.
- The 24/7 Farmer Wellness Initiative phone line provides farmers with free, professional mental health counselling services. Reachable at 1-866-267-6255, it first went live on January 1, 2022.
- The Guardian Network is made up of trained, adult volunteers who are likely to be in contact with farmers through their work, volunteer activities, or place in their community. CMHA Ontario trains and supports Guardians by equipping them with the strategies and tools needed to identify when someone is struggling with their mental health and direct them towards appropriate resources.
- In the Know is a mental health literacy program designed specifically for farmers, their families, and those who are involved in and/or support the agricultural sector. Participants cover topics such as stress, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and learn how to start a conversation about mental well-being during this three-hour, free workshop.
- The Canadian Mental Health Association delivers the Farmer Wellness Initiative, Guardian Network, and In the Know programs, while the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will be delivering the Sowing the Seeds of Wellness Initiative. More details about the promotional initiative and its application process will soon be available online.
- More details about the programs can be found online at: https://agriculturewellnessontario.ca/
- $7.03 million of the funding will come from Sustainable CAP, while a further $1.08 million will be invested from the Roadmap to Wellness, a provincial initiative aimed at building a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system in Ontario.
- Supporting and empowering farmers to take care of their mental health was among the priorities set for Sustainable CAP by the federal-provincial-territorial agricultural ministers in The Guelph Statement.
“This investment will go a long way to raise awareness, address stigma and provide essential mental health supports for farmers in their local communities. We’re grateful for the opportunity to continue creating a hub for agricultural mental health within the province.”
– Camille Quenneville
CEO, CMHA Ontario
SOURCE Province of Ontario