ONTARIO — Ontario farmers and farm families now have access to unlimited free, professional telephone counselling — amid growing recognition of the mental-health pressures placed on the sector. Initially launched in January with an available four free counselling sessions, the Farmer Wellness Program was recently expanded to include as many sessions as needed for those in the agricultural sector without charge.
“Operating a farm and working in agriculture can be incredibly stressful. For some farmers, this spring has brought unpredictable and complicated challenges that are beyond their control,” Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson Belinda Sutton said, explaining the rationale for the recent broadening of the program.
All farmers and farm families may access free, professional counselling sessions, as needed, by calling 1-866- 267-6255. They are “open to any person who operates a legal farm business that produces agricultural commodities in Ontario,” Sutton said. “Also eligible are the person’s dependents, such as a spouse, parent or child. In addition, all family members involved in the farm’s operation are eligible.”
The governments of Canada and Ontario are spending up to $4.5 million over three years on the Farmer Wellness Program.