A bill to create a national suicide prevention hotline has passed first reading in the House of Commons with unanimous support.
On Friday, Bill C-294 received support from all parties, bringing Canada closer to have a 9-8-8 suicide hotline like that already announced in the United States.
The effort was spearheaded by Conservative MP Todd Doherty, who says the bill will likely pass into law later this year.
“We knew that Canadians wanted it, we knew that industries supported this and the national mental health association supported this and now we need to find a way to get this done,” Doherty told Vista Radio.
“It was incumbent on the government to move the motion and the will of parliament, which included all parliamentarians who supported my motion to bring 988 to Canada. Now, the real work begins, we had met with the CRTC, we had met with the Telecomms and I have worked with our colleagues across the floor and now the only thing that was missing was political will.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada has seen a spike in reported mental health issues. As a result of lockdowns across the country, Canadians have reported declining mental health.
Some doctors have reported increases in suicides and suicide attempts, particularly among young people.
Doherty originally sponsored the motion in the House of Commons to gauge support for the hotline on December 11, 2020. The motion passed unanimously. However, Doherty urged the government to act sooner rather than later.
“It’s been 147 days since we passed my 9-8-8 motion in the House,” said Doherty at the time.
“Since then, we’ve lost an estimated 1,600 people to suicide. Another 40,425 have attempted suicide.”