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Ontario’s Community Mental Health and Addiction Agencies Estimate an Additional $100 Million Needed to Help Families Across the Province

Toronto, ON,  March 25, 2020:

Today’s preliminary annual increased investment by the Government of Ontario of $12 million towards mental health and addiction support for Ontario’s families, children and youth is welcome. Children’s Mental Health Ontario, Addictions and Mental Health Ontario and Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division anticipate that an additional $100 million will be needed for COVID-19 emergency response services.

“We commend and support the government’s urgent efforts to get money to the front-lines and hospitals to tackle this pandemic. As mental health and addiction care providers across Ontario work diligently to serve their communities during this crisis, Ontario’s community-based mental health and addiction agencies are hopeful that in the coming weeks, Minister Christine Elliott and the Government of Ontario will add significantly more funding to address the uptick in demand for mental health and addiction services that is being seen by our providers across the province,” said Kim Moran, CEO, Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO).

Health Canada, using conservative data based on SARS, estimates that over 11 million Canadians will experience increased levels of stress during the COVID-19 outbreak, and over 2 million Canadians will show signs of traumatic stress.

“We are anticipating a huge swell of mental health and addiction challenges as a result of the impacts of social isolation, loss of loved ones and economic downturn. We need to scale our programs and services as quickly as possible while also keeping our front-line mental health care clinicians and staff safe,” said Adrienne Spafford, CEO, Addictions and Mental Health Ontario.

Deemed an essential service, community-based mental health and addiction agencies serving more than 530,000 Ontario families, children and youth are responding to COVID-19 by placing additional health and safety measures to ensure they can continue to provide, in some cases, life-saving treatment and services to Ontarians.

“We look forward to receiving more details about eligibility for mental health and addiction agencies under the $1B COVID-19 contingency fund. Minister Phillips indicated that today’s announcement is a first phase of the province’s response and we look forward to further investments in mental health and addiction.” said Camille Quenneville, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division.

Before the onset of COVID-19, Ontarians were already facing extremely long wait lists and wait times to access mental health and addiction services, often turning in crisis to emergency rooms. There are 28,000 children and youth on wait lists for mental health services. The $100 million which Ontario’s mental health community agencies are requesting in additional one-time funding could go a long way to helping to prevent additional pressures on Ontario’s hospitals so they can focus their efforts where they are most needed.

An increased, one-time COVID-19 emergency response investment, representing 2.5% of the sector wide budget, will enable:

  • Redeploying of additional clinical workers to cover staff shortages, fill critical service gaps, implement innovative business models and add capacity in infection control (this could include staff to do screening of clients and patients as well as additional security officers)
  • Expansion of technology and digital solutions to continue to provide high-quality, confidential services such as counselling and therapy by phone or virtually (i.e. purchasing phones or laptops to enable virtual therapy, providing phone-minutes or devices to clients)
  • Improved navigation so Ontarians and their families can easily find the help they need
  • Access to PPE and other cleaning products to protect staff and clients, prioritizing residential programs, live-in treatment, supportive housing and intensive services that require face-to-face treatment

 

For more information, please contact:

Kathleen Powderley, 416-803-5597, kathleen@responsiblecomm.ca

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