Seven of Ontario’s leading mental health and addictions care organizations have come together in recent days to make two separate statements calling on the province to address mental health and addictions in its COVID-19 recovery plan.
In an Oct. 6 statement, the group – comprised of Addictions and Mental Health Ontario, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Children’s Mental Health Ontario, The Royal, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, and Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care – shared details of a meeting with health minister Christine Elliott and associate mental health and addictions minister Michael Tibollo. The organizations expressed their concerns of chronic underfunding for the sector, and urged government to mitigate further issues in the fallout of COVID-19 by flowing $380 million in immediate funds this year as part of its previously-stated $3.8 billion commitment over 10 years.
The following day, the province announced a $176 million commitment to “help expand access for critical mental health and addictions supports during COVID-19.” In its announcement, the province said these funds would support community-based services in English and French, including children and youth services; mental health and justice services; supportive housing; community and residential addictions, including treatment and care for opioid addictions; increased supports for Indigenous peoples, families and communities; and more hospital in-patient beds for mental health and addiction patients.
The seven mental health and addictions organizations followed with another statement welcoming the province’s new funding, but noting “these investments still fall short of the government’s commitment to invest $3.8 billion over ten years in addiction and mental health services.”
“We need a focus on reducing wait times and improving the quality of services,” read the statement’s concluding remarks. “That demands an investment of $380 million per year within the health system, not outside of it. The time is now.”