The Ontario government is providing over $147 million to immediately expand access to the provincial mental health and addictions system for people of all ages and address capacity issues in response to COVID-19.
This funding builds upon the $176 million provided earlier this year as part of Roadmap to Wellness, the government’s comprehensive plan to deliver high-quality care and build a modern, connected and comprehensive mental health and addictions system.
“With Ontario in a second wave of COVID-19, and with the holiday season just around the corner, it is critical that we act now to make it easier for people to find and access mental health and addictions services,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said. “We are supporting our most vulnerable populations, while expanding community-based and virtual and online services to close gaps in care and ensure the right mental health and addictions supports are widely available.”
The impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, including prolonged physical distancing, widespread financial uncertainty, and being constantly inundated with new information about the virus, have made life increasingly difficult for many people and families across Ontario, especially among those living with mental health and addictions challenges. With the arrival of the holiday season, this investment will address the increasing demand for services during these difficult times.
Through this investment, the government will add more staff, accommodations, virtual supports, housing and short-term accommodation, and other supports to continue providing safe in-person services where appropriate, including supports specifically for Ontario’s frontline workers. This includes:
- Over $62.2 million in community-based mental health and addictions services and inter-professional primary care teams, including $30 million in targeted funding for child and youth mental health services. Services include local in-person and virtual community mental health and addictions services, housing and accommodation supports, capacity-building for front-line workers, peer supports and resources, and enhanced services through inter-professional primary care including Family Health Teams, Indigenous governed supports and Community Health Centres;
- $8 million in targeted, culturally safe services for Indigenous peoples, including land-based programming, and culturally safe and age-appropriate mental health and addictions supports, including wellness supports for children and youth;
- Over $10 million to help specific vulnerable populations, such as those in residential settings that may be at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks, those at risk of homelessness, social isolation and justice-involved individuals. Services include mobile crisis supports, rent supplements and supports for racialized individuals; and
- Over $15.4 million to expand virtual mental health and addictions supports, making it easier for Ontarians across the province to access these resources, including internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, virtual addictions supports and virtual supports for health care workers. This investment will provide additional virtual services for children and youth through the Kids Help Phone and Child and Youth Tele-Mental health services. Health care workers will also be supported to continue accessing virtual mental health services.
In addition, over $51.5 million will go towards a cross-sectoral approach to support vulnerable populations, including but not limited to postsecondary students, First Nations communities, Metis, Inuit and urban Indigenous peoples, Black youth, children and youth in care, LGBTQ youth, people with developmental disabilities, and victims of gender-based violence.
In response to challenges caused by COVID-19, funding will be targeted towards supporting municipal and First Nations police services, as well as the Ontario Provincial Police in accessing innovative and effective virtual training to assist them in handling mental health cases.
“With the New Year quickly approaching, our government recognizes that more needs to be done to ensure that individuals and families are fully supported during these difficult times,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Today’s investment builds on our commitment to increase mental health and addictions support during the COVID-19 outbreak so people of all ages can continue accessing the high-quality care they expect and deserve.”
As part of Ontario’s Fall Preparedness Plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, the funding announced today builds on the $46.75 million in emergency funding for mental health and addiction services provided in the first phase of the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Ontario government has invested a total of up to $194 million in its COVID-19 mental health and addictions response.
To find the right supports for you, visit COVID-19: Support for People to find information about the many available, confidential and free mental health services and supports.