Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for the opportunity to continue my earlier remarks on this matter first delivered in support of the private member's legislation that was introduced by my hon. colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga in October 2011.
Bill C-300 is extremely important and I would like to share with the House several personal experiences I have had over the last few months, which have assisted me in developing a stronger appreciation for the work done by professionals in communities all across Canada in regard to mental health and specifically suicide prevention.
As some of my colleagues here in the House know, my community of Sarnia—Lambton was rocked by a series of youth suicides in a short period of time in the recent past.
Stakeholders, particularly those on the front lines of the mental health community, were doing everything in their power to assist families in my riding that had been hurt by youth suicide, while at the same time providing preventative services to youth who were depressed and possibly having suicidal thoughts.
With this in mind, I began organizing a one day symposium for my community to address these serious issues.
From the beginning, the Mental Health Commission of Canada played an integral role in working with my office to bring the issue of youth suicide and mental health to the forefront in my own community.
This idea grew into the Sarnia—Lambton symposium on youth mental health, which I was able to host in my riding at Lambton College that provided logistical support.
In addition, I worked with a myriad of community mental health stakeholders from Sarnia—Lambton, including Joanne Klauke-LaBelle from Harmony for Youth, Sharon Berry Ross from the Sarnia—Lambton Suicide Prevention Committee and also Ruth Geurts, a prominent faculty member within the social work program at Lambton College.
I would also like to thank Aaron Levo and Claire Checkland from the Mental Health Commission of Canada for their outstanding contributions to the symposium as well.
There were many others who attended and participated in the event, including special invitees who were considered regional stakeholders, such as local mayors, education directors from school boards and also my colleague, the member for Kitchener—Conestoga, who was able to attend for the full day and speak in support of his Bill C-300 at the symposium. We were also thankful to have a keynote address from Dr. David Goldbloom, who appeared courtesy of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Dr. Goldbloom is the senior medical advisor at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and a professor of psychiatry at the U of T. He is one of Canada's greatest minds on the issue of youth mental health.
The Sarnia—Lambton symposium on youth mental health was an effort on my behalf to raise the issues of youth suicide in a proactive forum of mental health stakeholders from across various levels of government so we could discuss the benefits and pitfalls of the existing framework in Canada across provincial lines.
I heard an array of stories that pointed out areas where we as policy makers could make direct improvements. I also heard that there was a strong willingness from all levels of government to do their best to ensure we were implementing policies that would help our youth in communities that were having issues with depression and other forms of mental illness.
With this in mind, I strongly support my colleague's efforts to further assist in this regard, which will be accomplished by the measures contained in Bill C-300.
Although Canada has made several important investments under the current government for mental health, including the formation of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and long-term funding for this organization, we have much work to do to address the severity of the issue of youth suicide. I realize it is now an issue we are all seized with as policy-makers, as youth suicide occurs in every community across Canada and is the second leading cause of death among our youth aged 10 to 24.
It is extremely upsetting to think of the bright lights of our youth being faced with such inner turmoil that they would choose to end their own life. However, in Canada it is an alarming issue that we must work together to address immediately.
In addition to events like the Sarnia—Lambton symposium on youth mental health, it is good to see corporations like Bell coming forward with innovative ideas such as the Let's Talk campaign that began this week.
I would even like to commend our hon. colleague, the member for Toronto Centre, who has shared his own battles with depression with Canadians in a very public manner. It takes a great deal of courage to share such personal stories and actions such as this can and will have a positive impact on the overall discussion toward mental health and specifically youth suicide prevention.
As we continue to place these issues on the forefront of Canadian discourse, I believe we will see more Canadians taking action to ensure that we enable discussions on mental health issues rather than treating the issue with stigma. Although it is good to see youth suicide prevention being discussed more openly in our society, the reality is it is still an urgent matter.
Regrettably, the day following the symposium in my community a youth tragically took his life. This pointed out to me the fragile nature of the youth we were attempting to reach out to and it really hit home how severe the issue had become across all of our communities. Therefore, we need to back the talk up with actions and it is my belief that Bill C-300 would build upon other actions already taken by this government, such as the formation of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, so we can truly make a difference on this issue.
I understand the commission will be releasing a report this year and I greatly look forward to reviewing it when it becomes available. Furthermore, I support the efforts of our Minister of Health who has had the opportunity to raise the issue of suicide prevention with provincial health ministers.
The efforts taken by those like my humble colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga can help shine like a beacon in the darkness and it is my sincere hope that members in the House will join together to support this important legislation fully and completely. Our youth are depending on us to do so.