THUNDER BAY - Provincial funding will see the expansion of mental health and addictions services throughout Northwestern Ontario.
The provincial government announced on Monday that it is providing $1.5 million in annual funding to hire up to six psychiatrists and develop a system wide response to mental health and addictions challenges in the region through local community-based services, including culturally appropriate services for Indigenous children and youth.
“Now more than ever, it is critical 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 Minister of Health Christine Elliott in a statement.
"With today's investment, we will 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."
The funding will allow for the recruitment of physicians for the Child and Adolescent Multidisciplinary Psychiatry Services (CHAMPS) Program, which is operated by the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, in partnership with the St. Joseph's Care Group.
The Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services (CAPS) program in the Northwestern Ontario region will be further expanded.
A centralized service hub will also be established in the city of Thunder Bay where additional satellite services can grow to cover all jurisdictions in the region as a treatment network for specialized mental health and addictions services for children and youth under the age of 19.
"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 Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Greg Rickford.
"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."
It is expected these resources will support approximately 1,800 patients per year and reduce wait times for 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 Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo.
"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."