Mental Wellness Funding Announced for Ontario First Nations

Mental Wellness Initiative signed in Toronto
Mental Wellness Initiative signed in Toronto

TORONTO – First Nations leaders, the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada recognize that mental wellness is a priority shared among First Nations communities, families, and individuals that must be addressed by services that are designed and delivered by First Nations.

“Our children and youth are currently in crisis. On March 1, 2018, AFN Youth Council Co-chair Mark Hill, of Six Nations, reminded the National Chief and Regional Chiefs that mental wellness is the number one priority amongst youth nation-wide. Canada can no longer remain on the sidelines as our young Peoples, some of whom are as young as 10 years old, commit suicide on an almost daily basis. However, mental wellness is only the beginning. To truly end this crisis, we must address the determinants of health, from proper housing and drinking water to education, employment, and long-term sustainable, happy, healthy communities.

On behalf of the Chiefs of Ontario, I welcome the addition of these new mental wellness teams.  The announcement of this innovative approach to funding mental wellness initiatives follows many months of discussions between First Nations in Ontario and both levels of governments. The joint funding is a true collaborative funding model which can serve future initiatives in addressing the social determinants of health,” states Isadore Day, Ontario Regional Chief.

Today, in Toronto, Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott, Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services, Michael Coteau, and Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day announced a joint initiative to establish 19 new mental wellness teams hosted by First Nations organizations and selected by First Nations leaders.

The Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario are each providing $5 million per year starting in 2018-19 to support the implementation of these teams. The 19 mental wellness teams are located across the province to ensure access in all First Nations communities.

Mental Wellness Initiative signed in Toronto
Mental Wellness Initiative signed in Toronto

This initiative is part of a comprehensive strategy where Canada and Ontario are working directly with Ontario First Nations to improve the quality and cultural safety of health services to achieve better health outcomes and bridge health inequities that persist between First Nations and other Ontario residents.

Recent actions include:

  • The development of a Relationship Agreement with the Grand Council Treaty #3, Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Mushkegowuk Tribal Council to respond to the social emergencies in remote and isolated communities.
  • A commitment by Canada and Ontario for health transformation in Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Anishnawbek Nation, Grand Council Treaty 3 and Six Nations of the Grand River.
  • Collaboration to increase access to addictions prevention and treatment, including the joint funding of a healing and treatment centre in Fort Frances.

“Access to mental wellness supports is crucial for First Nations communities in Ontario, and across Canada. This funding is part of the Government of Canada’s focus on improving services for Indigenous peoples and supporting the path to Indigenous self-determination,” said  Jane Philpott Minister of Indigenous Services.

“We have reached a unique agreement with the federal government to help provide important mental health and prevention services and supports for First Nations. This will help Indigenous children and youth receive mental health services as quickly and as close to home as possible,” states Michael Coteau
Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services.


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