I cannot tell you whether my statistics apply to Canada, but, in general, they match the trends demonstrated in international studies.
As I said, I am a doctoral candidate but I am also very involved in the field. There are certainly a lot of problems beyond the farmers’ control. Farmers are often isolated and they will not go and look for help. So we have to be proactive. If we wait for the telephone to ring in order to solve a problem with stress or distress, we will be waiting a long time. Quebec therefore decided to be proactive.
The objective of the sentinels is to have eyes and ears everywhere in the field in order to detect signs of distress. However, you then need people to look after those who have been identified. That is where the field worker concept comes in. Ms. Labrecque Duchesneau talked about that. I also believe that you have heard another presentation about it. The field worker concept is modelled on the street worker principle, the concept of outreach. We go out to the farmers, we do not wait.
We are also working to eliminate the stigma associated with asking for help. We are making some progress. After 14 years, it is being talked about much more openly. A lot of work still has to be done, but things are moving forward nevertheless.
We work proactively to help people, first with the sentinels and then with the field workers. We spread ourselves around the area. With those front-line services alone, we are meeting a huge number of needs.
The main problem that we have had with the sentinels and the network of field workers we have established in Quebec is the uncertain funding. However, the formula works. The field workers are trained to respond and they know agriculture. The two go hand-in-hand because knowing agriculture makes establishing trust with farmers a great deal easier. The formula works and I believe in it, but we are always looking for funding. Money makes the world go around, as they say. Still, in Quebec, we continue to establish a safety net for farmers.
As I was saying, we do not have recent statistics on the suicide rate, so we are not able to say whether there is a real impact. However, I choose to believe that all the measures we have been putting in place for 15 years are bearing fruit.
Finally, after meeting a number of dairy producers following the negotiations of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, I was very concerned, but I told myself that at least we had our networks in place. That is very fortunate because—