Ontario investing $37 million to expand mental health services in the justice system

Nov 17 2020, 6:56 pm
The Ontario government announced it is investing over $37 million to significantly expand mental health services across the justice system.
Premier Doug Ford said the funding would be used to expand mobile crisis teams across the province, hire additional staff, and support the creation of tailored programs for First Nations communities.
This is part of Ontario’s $176 million investment in the Roadmap to Wellness, the government’s plan to build a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system. It is also a component of Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover, they say.

Ford provided details at a press conference on Tuesday, accompanied by Christine Elliott, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Michael Tibollo, the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.

“Ontario’s police officers respond to tens of thousands of mental health calls a year, and we need to make sure they have the right training, as well as extra support from professional mental health workers to respond to these calls, and save lives,” said Ford.

“Expanding our mobile crisis services will help those in crisis get the mental health supports they need while ensuring our police and their community partners can work more effectively together and stay safe while handling these types of calls.”

The government says the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, including prolonged physical distancing, financial uncertainty, and constantly being bombarded with new information about the virus, have caused many Ontarians to experience a range of mental health and addiction challenges.

This has led to an increase in the demand for services and supports.

As part of the $176 million investment, the province is providing mental health and justice services that they say will lead to better supports for individuals with mental health and addiction challenges, including helping to reduce their interactions with police.

The funding includes over $6.5 million for mobile crisis services, allowing 33 communities across the province to expand or launch mobile crisis response services.

Five million dollars will be allotted to safe bed programs to support mobile crisis teams who assist local police services in de-escalating high-pressure situations and connect individuals with the services they need.

Over $14 million will go to supportive housing programs designated for justice-involved individuals, and $2 million has been set aside for addictions and withdrawal specialists to support safe beds.

Four million dollars will be used for enhanced addictions programming within adult correctional institutions, and $2 million will go to mental health and addictions peer support for offenders under community supervision.

An additional $2.25 million will be used for a corrections peer support program, and $1.1 million will go towards mental health and addiction supports for vulnerable and marginalized persons.

In addition, Ontario says it continues to build strong evidence-based research on post-traumatic stress disorder and occupational stress injury ― two common mental health challenges affecting Ontario’s frontline heroes.

“We are making it a priority to ensure that all Ontarians who need more mental health and addictions support have access to the high-quality services and supports they need,” Elliott said.

Zoe DemarcoZoe Demarco

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