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Canadian farmers to discuss mental health

Canadian farmers to discuss mental health

Feds will conduct a study on producers’ well-being

By Kaitlynn Anderson
Staff Writer

Canada’s agricultural community will have the opportunity to talk about mental health with the federal government, thanks to the standing committee on agriculture and agri-food.

Pierre Breton, Member of Parliament for Shefford, Que. and a member of the committee, tabled a motion to allow its members to “undertake a study on the mental health challenges that our farmers, ranchers and producers face,” he said during a meeting on Monday.

All members in attendance agreed to pass the motion.

Beginning on May 23, the committee will meet with producers and community health groups to understand the issues farmers face, review existing resources and identify any gaps in support. The committee will conduct the study over at least six meetings, Breton said.

During the debate period, Luc Berthold, Member of Parliament for Mégantic-L'Érable, Que., and a member of the standing committee, shared his thoughts on the study.

“There are several crises that regularly shake up the agricultural world, but they fly under the radar for most of the Canadian population,” he said. “Few people hear about the human cost of these crises.”

For example, the recent railway backlog “created a great deal of uncertainty for farmers and producers who did not know whether they would be able to afford to launch the next season and plant the next crop,” Berthold said.

Farmers also face challenges such as pest issues and climate change on a daily basis, he added.

“I think those of us that are in rural ridings have heard many stories about the difficult situations facing our farmers,” he said.

These events can have negative effects on producers’ well-being.

“We need to figure out how we can help our farmers face this situation and deal with its repercussions,” Berthold said. “If we are only able to help a single person through our work, we will have accomplished something.”

Once the committee has completed the study, it will present the findings to the House.

This study, which could complement past and current research, will help the industry act on these issues, Kim Keller, executive director and co-founder of the Do More Agriculture Foundation, told today.

“It is important that we create a baseline of understanding of mental health challenges that producers face today so that we can appropriately allocate time and resources for future initiatives,” she said.

The results will also provide individuals outside of agriculture with a chance “to better understand what producers experience and some of the challenges that the industry faces.”

Individuals can find a list of mental health resources on the Do More Ag website.

In situations where individuals require immediate assistance, they should call 911 or visit their local emergency department, Keller said.


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