Mental health for Ontario farmers has become a topic of growing concern as 35% of farmers may be classified as depressed, and up to 68% show symptoms of chronic stress. These staggering statistics have caught the attention of the Canadian government. The federal and Ontario provincial governments have decided to provide funding support towards mental health initiatives to the tune of $7 million which will be allotted through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP).
“The farming community has demonstrated great strength and resilience throughout the pandemic, but mental health challenges often go unseen. If you are struggling, the first step is to reach out, because you are not alone in facing these challenges. […] These new agricultural mental health programs expand resource availability to help Ontario farmers and employees if they’re struggling with their mental health.”-Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
On November 22, 2021, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced that funding will be provided to two programs specifically designed to assist mental health concerns for farmers and will be launched sometime in 2022. The two programs, the Guardians Network and an initiative called the Farmer Wellness Program, are expected to help farming families deal with the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I very much understand and appreciate how stressful running a farm can be, working 365 days a year and dealing with unpredictable weather, commodity prices and increasing costs of production. […] Add in the pandemic, and these pressures are having a real effect on the mental health of farmers and their families. That’s why our government is providing the necessary funding for these programs, and is committed to doing everything we can to help address these challenges and support mental health in our farming communities.”– Lisa Thompson, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.
What Will the Programs Offer?
The Guardians Network and Farmer Wellness Program will support Ontario’s fight against COVID-19 by helping farm families across the province get access to free counselling services. The programs will also help liaison farm families with other support systems and resources each individual family may need.
These initiatives will be developed in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and various mental health experts and services in Ontario.
To learn more about funding support for health and mental health in Canada, check out our review of Canada’s Federal Budget for 2021.
Who Will be Eligible?
Although these programs have not been launched yet, the official announcement has identified the intended recipients of this funding and mental health support to be at-risk farmers and their families within Ontario. These initiatives came to fruition through continuous discussions and interactions with farmers to learn about their needs.
To discover more about government funding for farmers and business support for the agriculture sector, check out the top Government Funding for Agribusinesses.
Although these programs have not announced official timelines, they are scheduled to launch in 2022. The Guardians Network and Farmer Wellness Program are part of a ten-year initiative that will see $3.8 billion investments such as the In the Know program which has focused on improving the dialogue around mental health for farmers as well as quality and access to services.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, please contact a local distress centre and visit the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRAs) Mental Health for Farmers – First Aid Kit.
Government Funding for Agriculture Businesses
Although this funding from the government will provide necessary support for mental health among farmers and their families, there are many more programs available to help agribusinesses and communities through the pandemic. We also suggest readers to learn more about COVID-19 funding relief programs and visit our news channel.
Learn more about these opportunities by reviewing our comprehensive directories which outline government funding for agribusinesses, opportunities for municipalities, and the top government funding programs in Canada.
We’re in contact with the federal and provincial governments every day to know when new programs are releasing and what businesses should be applying.