Ontario Expanding Mental Health and Addictions Services for First Nations and Indigenous Communities

Press Release

Investing in Community-Based Services to Build Healthier Communities and Help End Hallway Health Care

February 14, 2020

SAULT STE. MARIE — Ontario is expanding mental health, addictions and well-being services for First Nations and Indigenous organizations, helping to provide culturally-appropriate services closer to home.

Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, was joined by Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities and MPP for Sault Ste. Marie, and Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, at The Indian Friendship Centre in Sault Ste. Marie to announce the government is investing $1.2 million in additional funding to expand community-based mental health and addictions services provided by First Nations and Indigenous organizations.

“For the past year, we’ve been travelling the province to hear about the changes Ontarians expect to see in our mental health and addictions system,” said Elliott. “Investing in culturally-appropriate, community-based services for First Nations and Indigenous people is another example of how our government is listening and delivering more accessible mental health and addictions services to meet the specific needs of communities.”

This investment will help nearly 1,100 Indigenous clients by supporting:

  • Batchewana First Nation to expand existing mental health and wellness programs to offer a combination of clinical care and traditional healing and operate a new mental health and addictions aftercare program for post-treatment clients.
  • Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority to establish a team of specialized mental health professionals including counsellors, an expressive arts therapist and clinical psychologist, to provide care to First Nations youth in northwestern Ontario with acute mental health needs.
  • The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres to expand mental health and wellness programs that will serve more community members.

“This investment is a demonstration of our government’s commitment to improving front-line mental health and addictions services for First Nations and Indigenous communities across northern Ontario,” said Romano. “I want to thank front-line workers for supporting this effort and look forward to working closely with community partners to ensure residents receive the services and supports they need to live happy and healthy lives.”

Ontario continues to take a cross-government approach to build a better mental health and addictions system and will soon launch a new mental health and addictions roadmap that will meaningfully improve the care and services provided to all Ontarians, including First Nation, Métis, and Inuit people.

“Our government is continuing to fulfill on our promise of making mental health and addictions a priority,” said Tibollo. “It is critical to respond to the gaps in service that affect Indigenous people across the province and continue working to meaningfully improve Ontario’s mental health and addictions system and help build healthier communities.”

“The leadership of Batchewana First Nation are thrilled about the fiscal support for the facilitation of our continuum of care by the Crown Government,” said Dean Sayers, Chief of Batchewana First Nation. “There are many facets to this delicate issue that need to be addressed and having these additional resources to help expand our community-based mental health and addictions services is essential.”

Ontario has a comprehensive plan to end hallway health care, which includes making investments and advancing new initiatives across four pillars:

  1. Prevention and health promotion: keeping patients as healthy as possible in their communities and out of hospitals, including by increasing access to early-intervention mental health and addictions services.
  2. Providing the right care in the right place: when patients need care, ensure that they receive it in the most appropriate setting, not always the hospital. This includes expanding community-based mental health and addictions services to alleviate pressures on hospital emergency departments.
  3. Integration and improved patient flow: better integrate care providers to ensure patients spend less time waiting in hospitals when they are ready to be discharged.
  4. Building capacity: build new hospital and long-term care beds while increasing community-based services across Ontario, including expanding community-based mental health and addiction services for Indigenous communities.
Quick Facts

  • Investments were based on priorities identified by Indigenous partners. Ontario continues to work with Indigenous partners to design and deliver programs and services that address community-identified needs.
  • For 2019-20, the government is investing a total of $174 million more in annualized funding for mental health and addictions programs, to fill urgent gaps in care.
  • Ontario is investing $3.8 billion over 10 years to create new mental health and addictions services and expand existing programs.

Media Contacts

David Jensen
Communications Branch

Hayley Chazan
Senior Manager, Media Relations


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