Ontario Investing $1.5 Million in Kenora for Mental Health Services in the Justice System

Published on February 03, 2021

PHOTO: Tom Thomson

Additional funding will support victims, Indigenous families and youth

KENORA — The Ontario government is investing $6.48 million to strengthen mental health and addiction supports for victims, front-line workers, Indigenous families and youth involved in the justice system, including $1.5 million in one-time funds for the Kenora District Services Board to support transitional aged youth with Housing project for chronically disconnected youth with concurrent disorders and developmental disabilities in the Kenora region.

“Our government continues to invest in mental health and addiction services and supports right here in the Kenora region,” said Greg Rickford, MPP for Kenora–Rainy River. “We’re ensuring that resources are available in Kenora and across the Northwest for victims, front-line workers and youth involved in the justice system.”

The funding will the KDSB and partner organizations to increase programming and provide safe housing and mental health services for First Nations youth and families and help community organizations provide COVID-19 emergency services.

“Through the funding announced today, the Kenora District Services Board working in partnership with community partners to focus on vulnerable transitional aged youth and young adults who have aged of the care systems through the Province’s initiative to strengthen mental health and addiction supports victims, front-line workers, Indigenous families, and youth involved in the justice system” says Henry Wall, Chief Administrative Officer of the Kenora District Services Board. “We are grateful to the Attorney General Doug Downey, Minister Tibollo and Minister Rickford for this funding as it will help the community create purpose-built housing and a system of wrap around supports for vulnerable youth which will reduce the rates youth homelessness and human trafficking all while empowering the youth to reach their full potential”

This investment is part of the historic $147 million in mental health and addictions supports announced in December 2020 and will be used to:

Hire staff and increase mental health supports for victim crisis assistance organizations offering intervention services to victims and families in the immediate aftermath of a crime;

  • Make it easier for community organizations to safely provide supervised access services during the pandemic for children and families impacted by mental health and/or addiction issues; and
  • Establish safe, secure housing and mental health services for isolated First Nations youth, adults and families and at-risk young adults in Kenora, including a new Land-Based Healing and Wellness program at Black Sturgeon Lake.

Ontario’s plan for Justice Centres takes a whole-of-government approach to promote cross-sector collaboration and multi-agency supports for common clients. The Justice Centre model in Kenora will include parallel Criminal and Indigenous Restorative Justice processes.

These two streams will seek to increase referrals to existing Indigenous Restorative Justice programs, reduce the remand population, provide multi-sectoral trauma-informed supports, improve integration and access to appropriate services run by Indigenous communities and local service providers, integrate restorative practices into criminal justice processes, and prioritize solutions that allow Indigenous people in northern Ontario to remain in their home communities.

"Through this investment we are making our communities safer and healthier by expanding mental health supports in Ontario's justice system, particularly for victims of crime, youth, Indigenous families and front-line workers," said Attorney General Doug Downey. "By supporting existing and new mental health services we will ensure more Ontarians can access local help when and where they need it, including in Northern, rural and Indigenous communities."