Ontario Providing $1.5 Million to Expand Access to Mental Health and Addictions Services in Northwestern Ontario

Published on March 15, 2021

Funding Will Help Enhance Supports and Reduce Wait Times for Children and Youth

KENORA — The Ontario government is providing over $1.5 million in annual funding to expand access to mental health and addictions services in Northwestern Ontario. This funding will be used to hire up to six psychiatrists and fill critical gaps in specialized mental health and addictions services for children and youth.

“This investment will increase mental health and addictions supports for youth in Northwestern Ontario at a time when they are needed more urgently than ever,” said Greg Rickford, MPP for Kenora–Rainy River, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “The pandemic has exacerbated the challenges already facing many young people in the region – particularly Indigenous children and youth – and these additional supports are critical to ensuring not only their well-being, but that of their families and communities.”

“Now more than ever, it is critically important that we expand access to mental health and addictions services across the province to ensure every Ontarian can receive the safe and effective supports they deserve, no matter their age or where they live,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “With today’s investment, we are proud to be working with communities and Indigenous health partners to build a treatment network that will support children and youth, families, and communities across Northwestern Ontario on their journey to wellness.”

This funding will also help to develop a systemwide response to mental health and addiction challenges in the region through local community-based services, including culturally safe services for Indigenous children and youth.

This investment will see the recruitment of physicians for the Child and Adolescent Multidisciplinary Psychiatry Services (CHAMPS) Program, operated by the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, in partnership with the St. Joseph’s Care Group. This will further expand services of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services (CAPS) program performing outreach across all of Northwestern Ontario.

With this funding, a centralized service hub in the city of Thunder Bay from which services can grow with the development of satellite services to cover the entire region. As a result, there will be a significant reduction in wait times and increased access to specialized mental health and addictions services for children and youth aged 19 years and under. Once fully implemented, it is expected to support approximately 1,800 unique patients each year.

This new funding complements over $900,000 that was previously provided by the government to support the operations of the CHAMPS program and to partner with Indigenous mental health and addictions service providers across Northwestern Ontario to co-develop culturally appropriate services.

“Our government will continue taking real and meaningful action, so that we can build a modern, comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system for all Ontarians,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This investment will help improve the mental health and addictions care provided to children and youth in the North and will address the extensive wait times for critical services that have existed for far too long. This means that more of our children and youth will receive the care they need, when and where they need it.”