Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie is helping to lead the charge in calling on the federal government to tackle mental health issues.

Along with other Canadian big city mayors gathering for a mental health summit in Toronto, Crombie called on Ottawa to create a national mental health strategy.

“We have found that if we use our voices together, unified voices, we can achieve quite a bit as we have on the infrastructure file, public transit file, and the affordable house file,” said Crombie, while addressing the media. “This should be the next issue we should tackle as a unified group of mayors from across the country to have our federal government work hand-in-hand with provincial government to focus on the issue of mental health.”

Along with a Canada-wide health strategy, the mayors’ plan calls for agreed-upon benchmarks to see if the country can meet expectations in areas such as supportive housing and drug treatment no matter what the jurisdiction is.

The summit brought together Crombie along with mayors from Toronto, Vancouver, Windsor, St. John’s and Kitchener, with several detailing the issues their communities face because of the lack of a unified mental health plan. The group pointed out that provinces and municipalities generally work in isolation when dealing and treating mental health and that a shared strategy can lead to shared solutions, and ultimately, better outcomes.

Particularly, the mayors pointed to the effects of opioids and the spike in related deaths. They say much of this has been caused by those dealing with untreated mental health matters.

The mayors urged Ottawa to collect, then distribute mental data as the first steps towards creating benchmarks with the goal of completing a nation-wide strategy to face present and emerging problems.