Skip to main content
Start of content
Start of content

e-4266 (Health)

Initiated by Janelle Breese Biagioni from Victoria, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • There are approximately 165,000 new cases of brain injury annually in Canada;
  • Health and community service providers require more education regarding the intersection of brain injury, mental health, and addiction;
  • For every NHL player who suffers a concussion in sport, more than 5,500 Canadian women sustain the same injury from domestic violence;
  • There were 21,824 opioid-related poisoning hospitalizations resulting in hypoxic brain injury between January 2016 and June 2020 in Canada;
  • An estimated 60% of brain injury survivors suffer from anxiety and/or depression;
  • The risk of suicide increases by 400% for a survivor of brain injury;
  • Brain injury survivors face a 200% increased risk of struggling with addictions after sustaining a brain injury; and
  • Despite the federal government committing $11 billion over ten years to improve community support and mental health and/or addiction services, none are specifically targeted to brain injury.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to support Bill C-277 to develop a national strategy to support and improve brain injury awareness, prevention, and treatment, as well as the rehabilitation and recovery of persons living with a brain injury.

Response by the Minister of Health

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Adam van Koeverden

Thousands of Canadians are hospitalized each year due to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), which can range from mild to severe and include concussions. Work has been done in recent years across governments, with stakeholders and health care professionals to provide support to TBI survivors and improve education and awareness of TBI, as injuries to the head and brain are of special public health concern. Efforts are underway to recognize, educate, and prevent the public health issue of TBI and concussions in Canada.

In response to the Minister of Health’s and Minister of Canadian Heritage’s mandates in 2015 and 2019, the Government of Canada supported the implementation of a pan-Canadian concussion strategy and the development of tools and resources to raise awareness for parents, coaches, and athletes on concussion treatment.

Budget 2016 committed $1.4 million to support the development and implementation of a harmonized approach with provinces and territories on concussion prevention, detection, and management in Canada. With this funding administered through the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Parachute, a national injury prevention organization, developed The Canadian Guideline on Concussion in Sport (2017) to present a harmonized approach to concussion management. In November 2018, PHAC provided Parachute with $1.18 million in funding to produce education and awareness resources for parents as well as school and sport stakeholders to support Canadians in their return to school, sports, and daily activities post-concussion, as well as provide resources for medical and allied health professionals.

PHAC also funded the SCHOOLFirst project, led by Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, to provide information to Canadian teachers and school boards on best practices for students returning to school after a concussion and the Concussion Ed application to help parents manage their child's concussion.

Additionally, between 2017 and 2022, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) invested $51 million in research on traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, with $12.1 million invested in 2021-2022 alone. This encompasses a broad spectrum of research on traumatic brain injuries, including on sports-related concussions, injuries related to intimate partner violence, and the intersection of brain injury and mental health (including anxiety and depression). CIHR’s support for research in this investment includes a $1.5 million, five-year Network Catalyst Grant to Dr. Keith Yeates at the University of Calgary to establish the Canadian Concussion Network (CCN). This network brings together Canadian concussion researchers, clinicians, and stakeholders from multiple fields – including sports, health, education, and industry – to shape best practices and policies in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of concussions, with a particular focus on youth and sport.

The Government of Canada also works closely with provincial and territorial counterparts on the pan-Canadian concussion strategy and raising awareness for parents, coaches, and athletes on concussion treatment. In September 2021, federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in collaboration with the sport and health sectors, worked together to launch the first annual concussion awareness week and day.

In addition to education and prevention efforts, injury surveillance is a cornerstone of public health and important to understanding the burden, identifying risk and protective factors, and assessing the progress and success of prevention efforts.

In August 2020, PHAC released a comprehensive surveillance report on traumatic brain injuries and concussions in Injury in Review, 2020 edition: Spotlight on Traumatic Brain Injuries Across the Life Course. This report provides national surveillance statistics on head injuries and traumatic brain injuries across the life course, including deaths, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits, and summarizes findings from various surveillance systems reporting on:

  • Deaths—from the Canadian Vital Statistics Death Database (CVS:D) of Statistics Canada;
  • Hospitalizations—from the Hospital Morbidity Database (HMDB) and the Discharge Abstract Database (DAD) of the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI);
  • Emergency department visits—from the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS) (CIHI); and,
  • Emergency department visits—from the Public Health Agency of Canada's electronic Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (eCHIRPP).

To augment the surveillance of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries, PHAC partnered with Statistics Canada on a Rapid Response Survey on Head Injuries/Concussions. Data from this survey is expected to be released in 2023.

In 2022, PHAC launched the Concussion Detection Challenge, which aims to prevent severe health outcomes associated with concussions by encouraging innovators to bring forward solutions that detect concussions using objective clinical indicators. The intent is to generate user-friendly solutions that can be used by health practitioners and allied professionals with little specialized training. The Challenge is delivered through the Innovative Solutions Canada program administered by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

Traumatic brain injury resulting from family and gender-based violence is a serious public health issue that impacts individuals, families, and communities, and can have life-altering effects on survivors. PHAC is also investing up to $10 million per year to prevent and address family violence and support the health of survivors.

Through Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence, PHAC also invests up to $8.5 million per year ongoing in initiatives to prevent youth dating violence and child maltreatment, and to equip health professionals to recognize and respond safely to gender-based violence.

The Government of Canada is also committed to supporting initiatives that will help to prevent suicide and provide support to those affected by suicide. In support of this, the Government is providing $21 million over five years to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to implement a pan-Canadian suicide prevention service in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association and Crisis Services Canada. Talk Suicide Canada is currently providing individuals with access to crisis support from trained responders, via phone (24/7) by calling toll-free 1-833-456-4566, or by texting 45645 between 4pm to 12am ET. This includes immediate access to trained responders, providing information and resources, including support for someone concerned about a loved one considering suicide.

Moving forward, the Government of Canada is advancing the introduction of 9-8-8, a three-digit number for suicide prevention and emotional distress that will provide crisis support for Canadians via phone and text. Budget 2023 announced $158.4 million over 3 years to support the implementation of 988, which will be launched across Canada on November 30, 2023, and will build on the existing Talk Suicide Canada service.

The Government of Canada also prioritized providing mental health crisis support during the COVID-19 pandemic. To support distress centres that were experiencing a surge in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, an investment of $50 million was made to bolster their capacity. Through this investment, $2 million was also provided to CAMH to support the development and curation of resources for distress centres to better meet the needs of diverse populations, including older adults, youth, LGBTQ2+ populations, First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, racially and linguistically diverse groups, and people with disabilities.

Finally, the Government is committed to developing a National Suicide Prevention Action Plan based on the best available evidence. To advance this, PHAC is engaging with stakeholders and partners on key elements of the Action Plan, building on best practices and innovations in suicide prevention and life promotion. The National Action Plan will complement the implementation of 9-8-8. It will also build on the existing Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention, which was released in 2016 and communicates the Government of Canada’s guiding principles and strategic objectives for suicide prevention, most notably: raising awareness and reducing stigma; connecting people to information and resources; and accelerating innovation and research. 

We are aware of Bill C-277, An Act to establish a national strategy on brain injuries and look forward to considering this bill when it is debated in the House of Commons.

Open for signature
February 1, 2023, at 2:53 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
May 2, 2023, at 2:53 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan—Malahat—Langford)
May 12, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01445)
Government response tabled
June 20, 2023
Photo - Alistair MacGregor
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia