Canadian farmers need better mental health supports, says a report from the federal standing committee on agriculture.
The report tabled in the House of Commons May 28 contains 10 recommendations made after the committee undertook its study of rural mental health.
The all-party committee members acknowledged that existing support isn’t enough.
“Access to mental health care is still limited in rural areas, health professionals are still not familiar with the unique nature of agriculture, and current efforts to help farmers are not consistent across the country,” the report said.
More consistent initiatives through a national mental health strategy for farmers would be ideal. One recommendation suggests the federal government oversee the national co-ordination of research and prevention activities that target farmers’ mental health.
Other recommendations said that the government and its departments, when considering and implementing changes, should take into account the impact those will have on people and take action to mitigate stress.
This could include providing enough consultation time, ensuring that everyone is informed and even withdrawing changes or amending them if the negative impact on agriculture will be too great.
The committee said farmers’ mental health has been overlooked for too long; the economic and financial dimensions of agriculture get more attention.
The Conservative members of the committee issued their own supplementary report. It calls on the government to recognize the damage its federal carbon tax is causing and immediately scrap it and to take measures to prevent unprovoked social media attacks by animal rights activists.