Ontario Investing in Mental Health and Addictions Supports for Indigenous Communities

Published on October 29, 2021

 

TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing more than $36 million in community-led mental health and addictions supports in Indigenous communities across the province. This funding will help ensure culturally appropriate and trauma-informed supports are readily available for Indian residential school survivors and their families as well as Indigenous-led student, youth and gender-focused services.

“We are listening to Indigenous leadership and taking action to invest in mental health and well-being supports for Indigenous peoples, including Indian residential school survivors, said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “I have heard directly from First Nations leadership that the painful legacy and new attention of residential schools has resulted in trauma for survivors, families and communities. We will continue working with Indigenous partners to ensure services are available to meet the needs of Indigenous communities.”

This $36 million investment includes:

  • Over $20 million in Indigenous-focused mental health and addictions programs and services to directly support Indian residential school survivors. The funding will ensure culturally appropriate, trauma-informed supports are available to both First Nations and urban Indigenous organizations as critical work is undertaken to investigate and commemorate former Indian residential school sites across Ontario.
  • Annualized funding of more than $16 million devoted to cross-government investments in Indigenous services to support the implementation of Roadmap to Wellness: A Plan to Build Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions. This includes funding for culturally adapted child and youth mental health services including wellness supports for students, Indigenous-specific victim (healing) services, and development of an Indigenous-driven opioid strategy to address the increase in opioid use, and opioid related deaths.

“Our government is committed to ensuring everyone, including Indigenous communities, can access safe and effective mental health and addictions services where and when they need them,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This funding builds on our government’s commitment to working with Indigenous and federal partners to ensure programs and services that contribute to mental health and wellness effectively meet the needs of Indigenous people, families and communities.”

“Our government recognizes that Indigenous peoples and communities have faced too many barriers to accessing effective and safe mental health and addictions care, demand for which has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “With this investment, we’re taking an essential step in building productive working relationships and ensuring Indigenous communities throughout the province have access to culturally appropriate mental health and addictions supports, especially during these unprecedented times.”

Ontario recognizes the unique needs and challenges faced by Indigenous people as a result of recent Indian residential school burial site findings and other events that have greatly increased the demand for mental health and addictions services. Ontario continues to listen to the perspectives of Indigenous people on how to improve health outcomes and support practical actions an initiatives for advancing reconciliation with Indigenous communities across the province.

“For far too long, our communities have been on the frontlines of addictions and mental health crises,” said Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare. “The funding announced today will provide Indigenous-focused mental health and addictions and trauma support for Indian residential school survivors and their families and communities and ensure First Nations continue to thrive and heal from the damage done by intergenerational trauma. It is encouraging to see the cross-governmental approach to support First Nations in Ontario. I look forward to continuing these meaningful discussions to ensure the health and safety of First Nations through the development of supports and services that are relevant and appropriate to the needs of First Nations.”


Quick Facts

  • Ontario is providing dedicated MHA and trauma-informed funding to support the work around Indian residential school burial site investigation and to ensure appropriate, culturally sensitive training is provided to those assisting with this work.
  • Under Roadmap to Wellness, Ontario has announced an increase of $525 million in annualized funding for mental health and addictions support since 2019-20. This includes $175 million for more mental health and addictions services and supports in 2021-2022 committed through the 2021 Budget, $176 million invested in October 2020 and new funding of $174 million invested in 2019-20.

Quotes

"Many of our communities are in a state of crisis due to mental health and addictions, and the COVID-19 pandemic has caused social isolation and further limited access to mental health and addictions services. Investments are needed to help rebuild community-based systems and community-led approaches based on the unique needs of each of our First Nations communities. Our communities have seen excellent results from land-based programming based on our cultures and traditions. This much-needed funding will support community-driven, culturally appropriate supports that are critical to promote the well-being of our members and communities."

- Grand Chief Derek Fox
Nishnawbe Aski Nation

"Mental health supports are an essential component to helping individuals process the lasting impacts of intergenerational trauma due to residential schools. We will continue to focus on indigenous-led approaches to improve healing, health, and well-being for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples."

- Jane McKenna
Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues

"Every child deserves to feel safe and supported while at school. By investing in positive mental health and coaching support for Indigenous students, we are reaffirming our commitment to supporting all students. This funding builds on our record investments in student mental health and wellness and our commitment to ensuring Ontario students are provided with opportunities to learn and celebrate the contributions of Indigenous people to Canada."

- Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

"Our government is committed to working with justice partners and Indigenous communities to enhance services and supports for Indigenous offenders under community supervision. Collaboration is an essential part of the process to ensure that Indigenous communities have the tools and resources they need to strengthen mental health supports."

- Sylvia Jones
Solicitor General

"It is critical that Indigenous learners are provided with culturally relevant, trauma-informed mental health and wellness supports in the postsecondary education system. This funding will help Indigenous learners navigate unique mental health challenges to overcome barriers to success when pursuing their studies."

- Jill Dunlop
Minister of Colleges and Universities

"This valuable investment will help expand access to the Indigenous-specific victim services provided by the Family Information Liaison Unit, which is composed of Indigenous community members with extensive experience serving Indigenous women and girls. The unit supports families as they seek justice and facilitates connections with Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Healers and trauma supports."

- Doug Downey
Attorney General


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