Ontarians who are in need of mental health support will soon have more access to it, as premier Doug Ford announced $37 million in funding to expand the services across the province’s justice system in order to cope with rising emergencies amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ford made the announcement at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, together with province’s health minister Christine Elliott, mental health and addictions associate minister Michael Tibollo, and solicitor general Sylvia Jones.
The announcement comes as more Ontarians experience mental health and addictions challenges due to COVID-19 restrictions such as physical distancing and financial uncertainty.
“We know there are more mental health emergencies now than ever before. In fact, our police officers respond to tens of thousands of mental health calls every single year. And that number continues to grow,” Doug said.
“People don’t know where else to turn. More situations can go downhill real quickly without the social support we normally have.”
Ford added that it’s important that the police receive the right training, “as well as extra support from professional mental health workers to respond to these calls, and save lives.”
The expansion includes but not limited to the following:
- Over $6.5 million will be committed to establishing mobile crisis services across Ontario. These teams will respond to those in urgent need of mental health or addictions support instead of involving the police services.
- $5 million will be invested to set up safe bed programs that provide individuals in mental health and addictions crisis a temporary place to stay while accessing the services provided by the mobile crisis teams.
- Over $14 million will be allocated to create supportive housing programs.
Besides that, the province will build new tools and programs to support individuals experiencing occupational stress injury or post-traumatic stress, based on evidence-based research findings.