‘Our government is stepping up to significantly enhance the mental-health and well-being services for officers, staff and their families’
Saskatchewan and Ontario are allocating hefty amounts to provide better mental health services.
Saskatchewan in investing a record-high $458 million from its 2021-2022 provincial budget towards mental health and addictions programs and services across the province, equivalent to 7.5 per cent of the overall health budget. This marks an increase of $23.4 million or 5.4 per cent over last year.
“Our government is building on recent investments with increased funding to deliver a wide range of services that protect mental health and address the addictions issues experienced by individuals and families across Saskatchewan,” said Everett Hindley, minister for mental health and addictions, seniors and rural and remote health. “As we continue to see these concerns growing across our nation, our government remains committed to providing as much support to as many youth and adults as possible.”
The province will provide $16.2 million for hospital-based mental health and addictions services, physician visits and prescription drug costs. The remaining $7.2 million for targeted mental health and addictions services including specific youth-focused initiatives, more investments in suicide prevention and significant expansion in harm reduction and addictions treatment.
The new $7.2 million targeted investments include:
- $4.64 million for mental health services including:
- $2.0 million to establish up to three provincial locations for a youth-focused initiative that integrates mental health and addictions, physical health and community and social services.
- $1.0 million to implement actions as part of Pillars for Life: The Saskatchewan Suicide Prevention Plan;
- $500,000 to extend the pilot with the RCMP that partners registered nurses with RCMP members to support mental health needs in rural areas;
- $500,000 for mental health and addictions public awareness campaigns;
- $250,000 to address higher demand for mental health services as a result of COVID-19 impacts;
- $240,000 to add a Police and Crisis Team (PACT) in Estevan; and
- $150,000 to enhance support for HealthIM, an innovative technology tool that supports communication among hospitals and mental health emergency response.
- $2.6 million to enhance addiction and harm reduction services, including the following:
- $750,000 to establish and equip three innovative buses that will be based out of Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert to provide mobile harm reduction services;
- $440,000 to significantly improve access to harm reduction supplies, including an expansion of the Take Home Naloxone Program to many more locations across the province with the aim of making naloxone kits available in more pharmacies and co-locating naloxone kits with AED machines;
- $250,000 to address increased need for addiction services as a result of COVID-19 impacts;
- $240,000 for supports for high risk expectant mothers; and
- $70,000 toward an addictions medicine training program for physicians.
Saskatchewan will also allocate $850,000 from the 2021-22 budget for 12 additional provincial addiction treatment beds, as well as two new pre-treatment beds, in the new addiction treatment centre located at St. Joseph's Hospital in Estevan. This will push the number of beds at the facility to 32 treatment beds and six pre-treatment beds.
According to a report released in December 2020, 10 per cent of Canadians are experiencing recent thoughts or feelings of suicide, up from six per cent in the previous spring and 2.5 per cent throughout pre-pandemic 2016.
Meanwhile, Ontario is investing $12.5 million over three years to strengthen the mental health services available to Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and their families.
With the funding, the government will hire 20 additional mental-health support staff and enhance the OPP's Healthy Workplace initiative to address issues of mental health and occupational stress injuries. The investment is part of the province’s 2021 budget.
“Police personnel are among the professionals who are most likely to be exposed to occupational stress situations while protecting our communities,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “They often put themselves in harm's way and experience incidents that most of us will never have to face. This is why our government is stepping up to significantly enhance the mental-health and well-being services and supports that are available to our valued officers, staff and their families.”
The Healthy Workplace program is available to OPP officers and civilians, retired members, as well as their family members. Enhancements to the program will also allow the OPP to provide consultation and support to its Indigenous and municipal police partners.
Other Ontario programs aimed at safeguarding the police force’s mental health and well-being include:
- the hiring of 200 new front-line OPP officers to alleviate work pressure on other staff;
- a $2.6-million investment to hire new OPP psychologists and other mental health clinicians;
- the creation of a new integrated mental health support program launched in partnership with the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA).
Ontario previously 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. It also invested $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.