The Ontario government has announced a $37 million commitment to crisis services that it says is in response to mental health and addictions emergencies brought about by COVID-19.
This new funding for crisis services is part of $176 million already committed to the mental health and addictions system. Funds will support mobile crisis response teams, safe beds programs and supportive housing.
In its announcement, the province broke down the funding as follows:
- Over $6.5 million for mobile crisis services
The province says this funding will allow 33 communities to expand or launch mobile crisis response teams. These programs pair a police officer with a mental health worker on mental health and addictions crisis calls to more effectively support individuals in crisis and divert them from hospital emergency departments or justice system involvement.
- $5 million for safe beds programs
According to the province, this will enhance four existing safe beds programs and create seven new programs. Safe beds programs provide people in crisis with short-stay, 24-7 community residential crisis services.
- Over $14 million for supportive housing designated for justice-involved individuals
The province says this will fund up to 524 new supportive housing units for people either on diversion plans from mental health court or released from a correctional facility. More than $1 million of this will go toward 20 units affiliated with five new post-court transitional case managers who will support justice-involved individuals with mental health and/or addictions challenges with access to services.
- $2 million for addictions specialists
This funding is earmarked to provide eight communities with addiction specialists for safe beds programs, as well as addiction specialist support for pilot programs in Kenora and Toronto.
- $4 million for addictions programming in correctional institutions
The province says this will provide substance use and addictions training and resources for health care and operational staff and support the hiring of additional specialized positions.
- $2 million for peer support for offenders under community supervision
This funding will help establish partnerships with community-based mental health and addictions service providers and Indigenous organizations.
- $2.25 million for corrections peer support
This program is expected to offer all corrections employees (including retirees and those on leave) who are experiencing distress of any kind with non-clinical support for personal and workplace issues.
- $1.1 million for supports to vulnerable and marginalized persons
The province says this investment will provide mental health and addictions supports to prevent crime, break the cycle of offending and create safer communities in Kenora, London and Toronto, and enhance access to culturally-relevant services for Indigenous and Black communities.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division CEO Camille Quenneville applauded the investment to support crisis response in the province. Specifically, she said CMHA Ontario anticipates that this funding will help divert individuals who are experiencing a crisis to appropriate community-based care rather than the person ending up in the hospital emergency department or justice system.