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Mental Health and Addictions

The Ford PC Government is committed to a province where all Ontarians have access to high-quality, easily accessible mental health and addictions support throughout their lifetime where and when they need it.

The Ford PC Government has dedicated $3.8 billion over the next 10 years to improve Ontario’s mental health and addiction services. The province’s Roadmap to Wellness: a plan to build Ontario’s mental health and addictions system, builds on four pillars to lay out a clear path toward meaningful improvements to the care Ontarians receive. The four pillars are:

Pillar One – Improving Quality and Enhancing Services

  • Develop a new core services framework to identify provincially-funded mental health and addiction services that will be made available over time to Ontarians regardless of where they live.
  • Develop core service standards to set expectations for providers and assure Ontarians consistent care no matter where they go.
  • Tailor an evidence-based screening and referral tool to the core services framework to enable Ontarians to be matched to the correct core service quickly.
  • Driving quality improvements and enabling accountability through the Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence to identify service gaps, establish performance metrics, set service levels, and identify service providers’ data and digital needs.
  • Develop a digital initiative to make it easier to deliver better care, including a standard set of provincial data definitions to ensure standardized collection of data, with a secure data repository so information on patient care can be collected and shared among providers.

Pillar Two – Expanding Existing Services: Investing in Priority Areas

  • Immediate investments to fill urgent service gaps.
  • Committed to expanding frontline child and youth community mental health services, including establishing youth wellness hubs for youth aged 12 to 25, offering mental health and addictions services, primary care, education and employment services.
  • Making enhancements to safe beds and withdrawal services, and expanding mobile crisis teams, a new model of cooperation between police and mental health experts.
  • Providing training for police and correctional staff to identify better mental health and addiction issues, including focusing on de-escalation strategies for responding to people in distress. $18.3 million in 2019 for direct support to corrections staff to address operational stress injuries.
  • Implementing programs to support the mental wellness of the correctional staff, such as providing mental health leadership training to over 1000 managers across the province and providing frontline staff with stress management and mindfulness-based training. Training will include facilitator/teacher training to allow these programs to be self-sustaining.
  • Supporting first responder’s unique needs due to work-related stress or trauma.
  • Investing in supportive housing for homeless and low-income people living with mental health and addictions alleviates pressure on acute care settings.
  • Working collaboratively with Indigenous people and communities to address their unique needs for culturally appropriate mental health and addiction services. 
  • Expanding the French language services 

Pillar Three- Implementing Innovative Solutions: Filling Gaps in Care

  • Launched the Ontario Structured Psychotherapy program to provide free access to evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapy for people living with anxiety and depression. 
  • Ensure high-quality data collection to help assess every client session and ensure access to performance data to monitor a client’s progress for adjustments.
  • Developing innovative solutions and a new delivery framework for children and youth with autism spectrum disorder and mental health challenges.
  • Implementing a comprehensive suite of policies and programs to address the harms associated with opioid use, including appropriate pain management, harm reduction supports and surveillance and reporting.
  • Introducing the Consumption Treatment Program for supervised consumption and overdose prevention programs.
  • Tabled an Act to allow the Ontario Government to sue opioid manufacturers and wholesalers to recover past, present and future health care costs due to opioid-related disease, injury or illness and intends to invest any awards directly into frontline mental health and addiction services.
  • Establishing Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinics to provide immediate short-term care and work to connect them with primary care and community-based programs once they are stabilized. There are currently 54 RAAM clinics in 30 communities across Ontario.
  • Designing a made-in-Ontario program for youth, known as youth wellness hubs, to provide integrated health, education and employment programs.

Pillar Four- Improving Access: A New Provincial Program and Approach to Navigation

  • Coordinating access to mental health and addictions core services to improve Ontarians’ access to the proper care at the right time.
  • Developing a toll-free number and website that all Ontarians can use to streamline their immediate access to crisis counselling, screening and referral to publicly-funded core services and general information on mental health and addictions. Clients will be asked to complete a standardized questionnaire to assess their level of need and result in people getting the care they need sooner while reducing the emergency room visits.
  • Developing a standard quality icon to be awarded to programs and services that meet the quality standards established by the Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence.
  • Introducing Ontario Health Teams across the province will be clinically and fiscally accountable for delivering a fully coordinated mental health program, and addictions care to a defined geographic population.
  • Developing a system-level approach for measuring the performance of the mental health and addictions system, including frequency of emergency department visits, hospitalizations for substance use, rate of self-harm including suicide, wait times for community mental health counselling, awareness and successful navigation of mental health services, and early identification for early intervention in youth aged 10 to 25.

To support these Pillars, the government has committed to investing $7.2 million in 2021-2022 and $41.39 million in each of the years 2023-2024. The legislation will also require employers to have Naloxone kits to reverse overdoses in high-risk workplaces.

“Mental health and opioid addiction continue to be a growing problem in communities across Ontario, including those in the Thunder Bay – Atikokan riding. The implementation of these pillars is the foundation to ensure people get the help they need, including immediate, life-saving interventions.” – Kevin Holland