‘We will ensure more Ontarians can access local help when and where they need it’
Ontario is investing $6.48 million to strengthen mental health and addiction supports for frontline workers, as well as victims, Indigenous families and youth, involved in the justice system.
“Through this investment we are making our communities safer and healthier by expanding mental health supports in Ontario's justice system, particularly for victims of crime, youth, Indigenous families and front-line workers,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “By supporting existing and new mental health services we will ensure more Ontarians can access local help when and where they need it, including in Northern, rural and Indigenous communities.”
The funding will be used to:
- hire staff and increase mental health supports for victim crisis assistance organizations offering intervention services to victims and families in the immediate aftermath of a crime;
- make it easier for community organizations to safely provide supervised access services during the pandemic for children and families impacted by mental health and/or addiction issues;
- establish safe, secure housing and mental health services for isolated First Nations youth, adults and families and at-risk young adults in Kenora, including a new Land-Based Healing and Wellness program at Black Sturgeon Lake;
- help provide COVID-19 emergency services and tailored, culturally appropriate mental health and addiction supports for youth at the London, Toronto Northwest and Toronto Downtown East justice centres.
Nearly half (45 per cent) of workers across all industries say their employer is providing employees with additional mental health resources amid the pandemic. However, just a few employees are accessing these supports, according to an ADP Canada study released in May 2020.
“Our government recognizes the need to ensure individuals and families are fully supported during these challenging times,” said Downey. “This investment will give our front-line workers and community organizations the resources they need to safely continue serving victims and families during the pandemic, and help ensure safe, secure housing and mental health supports for youth and Indigenous families.”
There is a link between mental health and criminal justice issues, according to Mental Health America.
“The increasing number of individuals with mental health and substance use conditions in the criminal justice system has enormous fiscal, health, and human costs,” it said. “Diverting individuals with mental health and substance use conditions away from jails and prisons and toward more appropriate and culturally competent community-based mental health care is an essential component of national, state, and local strategies to provide people the supports they need and to eliminate unnecessary involvement in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.”
Recently, Ontario also announced it is establishing four new mental health collaborative tables to better support the mental health and well-being of policing, fire, corrections and paramedic services personnel.