(Toronto, Dec. 17, 2020) – The following is a statement from Camille Quenneville, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division, in reaction to today’s announcement from the Ontario government of a $147 million investment in mental health and addictions services to support capacity pressures during COVID-19:
“We’re thankful for the provincial government’s commitment of $147 million to support mental health and addictions services during the pandemic. Alongside our sector partners, CMHA Ontario has been advocating for additional investments to offset the pressures our organizations are facing during these challenging times. It was also encouraging to see in today’s announcement targeted funding specifically for vulnerable populations, children and youth, and mobile crisis teams.
“The impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health has been profound. Our data shows Ontarians are experiencing greater rates of anxiety, depression, stress and worry as a result of social isolation, loneliness and other effects of this pandemic, so today’s investment is a positive development. We’re also seeing Ontarians using more substances and, tragically, opioid-related deaths have skyrocketed. The province’s chief coroner estimates opioid-related deaths are up as much as 40 per cent since the start of the pandemic.
“Thankfully, the province deemed mental health and addictions care providers an essential service early on, which allowed us to continue supporting Ontarians during the pandemic with critical services such as supervised consumption, crisis response, residential and live-in treatment, intensive treatment supports, withdrawal management, supportive housing and other services.
“We’ve been innovative from the very beginning, shifting program delivery to virtual where possible. And where in-person service is necessary, our front-line workers have implemented protocols to do so safely. It’s critical that Ontarians continue to receive the often life-saving treatment they need in the community, both for their own well-being, but also to ensure we’re not creating additional pressures on our hospital emergency departments at this time.
“However, staffing and other resources have been strained as we shifted gears to continue services. As rates of mental health and addictions issues rise as the pandemic continues, we’re clearly in need of more capacity on the front lines.
“We’re optimistic that today’s commitment will give mental health and addictions agencies some ability to close gaps in service or provide some relief to workers who have been stretched in recent months.”
About Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario is a not-for-profit, charitable organization. We work to improve the lives of all Ontarians through leadership, collaboration and continual pursuit of excellence in community-based mental health and addictions services. Our vision is a society that embraces and invests in the mental health of all people. We are a trusted advisor to government, contributing to health systems development through policy formulation and recommendations that promote positive mental health. Our 28 local CMHA branches, together with community-based mental health and addictions service providers across the province, serve approximately 500,000 Ontarians each year.
For more information, contact:
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
T: 416-977-5580, ext. 4175