Investment in Indigenous Mental Health and Addiction Care of $36 Million

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TORONTO — “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.”

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.”

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.”