By TNM Alumni Amanda Suleiman
Honestly speaking, I was a bit apprehensive about setting up a meting with my MPP, partially because I feel really uninformed about how the government works, and my role in it, and I felt like no one would want to hear what I had to say. However, after taking the plunge and recently setting up a successful meeting with my MPP to talk about youth mental health funding, I’m hoping to share my experience to help others do the same.
Firstly, once I had decided to meet my MPP, I (somewhat embarrassingly) realized that I wasn’t completely sure that I knew who my current MPP even was, so I was off to the internet! I first found my electoral district using this link, and from there, was able to search for the name and contact information of the MPP corresponding to my electoral district here.
From there, I emailed my MPP a request to meet, including my name and a brief description of what I wanted to talk about. To give you an idea of what you would say, I’ve included an excerpt here:
Dear [MPP NAME],
I would like to set up a time to meet with you, specifically regarding the lengthy wait times affecting children and youth in [CITY] seeking treatment within Ontario’s child and youth mental health system. As you may be aware, the child and youth mental health system is currently facing skyrocketing demand for services, leading to lengthy wait times of up to 18 months.
Over 120,000 children and youth receive care in community-based mental health agencies, and while the Ontario government has made progress toward key commitments for improvements to the system, the fact remains that too many children and youth are not able to not access the services they desperately need. Ontario children and youth deserve timely and effective mental health treatment when and where they need it. Simply put, [CITY] children and youth need your help to advocate for investment in community-based mental health services today…
An assistant from my MPP’s office got back to me the next day to schedule an appointment a couple of weeks away. I was also happy to find out that his office was actually in a nearby plaza which was a lot less intimidating than the large office building I had been imagining.
I arrived at their office, checked in with the receptionist, and waiting. Then, I was taken to meet my MPP in their office. I was pleasantly surprised to see that we were able to have a more casual conversation, and that he was genuinely interested in hearing about my experiences, what I’ve noticed, and what suggestions I had to improve things. It was a short meeting, around 20 minutes. He told me he would keep what I had said in mind and bring it to Queen’s Park. I know it was a small piece, but there is strength in numbers, and I’m glad I was able to take part in this process, taking advantage of all avenues to have this important message heard.
Take away points: Talking with CMHO team members, I was reminded that it is literally the job of MPPs to take time to speak to their community members, and bring their concerns to the attention of the Premier.