Ontario Expanding Mental Health and Addictions Services for First Nations and Indigenous Communities


Ontario is expanding mental health, addictions and well-being services for First Nations and Indigenous organizations, helping to provide culturally-appropriate services closer to home.

Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, was joined by Ross Romano,
Minister of Colleges and Universities and MPP for Sault Ste. Marie, and Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, at The Indian Friendship Centre in Sault Ste. Marie to announce the government is investing $1.2 million in additional funding to expand community-based mental health and addictions services provided by First Nations and Indigenous organizations.

“For the past year, we’ve been travelling the province to hear about the changes Ontarians expect to see in our mental health and addictions system,” said Elliott. “Investing in culturally-appropriate, community-based services for First Nations and Indigenous people is another example of how our government is listening and delivering more accessible mental health and addiction services to meet the specific needs of communities.”

This investment will help nearly 1,100 Indigenous clients by supporting:
• Batchewana First Nation to expand existing mental health and wellness programs to offer a
combination of clinical care and traditional healing and operate a new mental health and
addictions aftercare program for post-treatment clients.
• Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority to establish a team of specialized mental health
professionals including counsellors, an expressive arts therapist and clinical psychologist, to
provide care to First Nations youth in northwestern Ontario with acute mental health needs.
• The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres to expand mental health and
wellness programs that will serve more community members.

“This investment is a demonstration of our government’s commitment to improving front-line mental health and addictions services for First Nations and Indigenous communities across northern Ontario,” said Romano. “I want to thank front-line workers for supporting this effort and look forward to working closely with community partners to ensure residents receive the services and supports they need to live happy and healthy lives.”

Ontario continues to take a cross-government approach to build a better mental health and addictions system and will soon launch a new mental health and addictions roadmap that will meaningfully improve the care and services provided to all Ontarians, including First Nation, Métis, and Inuit people.

Christine Elliot Deputy Premier and Health Minister

“Our government is continuing to fulfill on our promise of making mental health and addictions a priority,” said Tibollo. “It is critical to respond to the gaps in service that affect Indigenous people across the province and continue working to meaningfully improve Ontario’s mental health and addictions system and help build healthier communities.”
“The leadership of Batchewana First Nation are thrilled about the fiscal support for the facilitation of our continuum of care by the Crown Government,” said Dean Sayers, Chief of Batchewana First Nation. “There are many facets to this delicate issue that need to be addressed and having these additional resources to help expand our community-based mental health and addictions services is essential.”

Ontario has a comprehensive plan to end hallway health care, which includes making investments and advancing new initiatives across four pillars:
1. Prevention and health promotion: keeping patients as healthy as possible in their communities and out of hospitals, including by increasing access to early-intervention mental health and addictions services.
2. Providing the right care in the right place: when patients need care, ensure that they receive it in the most appropriate setting, not always the hospital. This includes expanding community-based mental health and addictions services to alleviate pressures on hospital emergency departments.
3. Integration and improved patient flow: better integrate care providers to ensure patients spend less time waiting in hospitals when they are ready to be discharged.
4. Building capacity: build new hospital and long-term care beds while increasing community-based services across Ontario, including expanding community-based mental health and addiction services for Indigenous communities.

Quick Facts
▪ Investments were based on priorities identified by Indigenous partners. Ontario continues to work with Indigenous partners to design and deliver programs and services that address community-identified needs.

▪ For 2019-20, the government is investing a total of $174 million more in annualized funding for mental health and addictions programs, to fill urgent gaps in care.

▪ Ontario is investing $3.8 billion over 10 years to create new mental health and addictions services and expand existing programs.


  1. Bill, can you explain what you mean by “everyone”? Because I don’t have a problem understanding that this money is for everyone and that First Nations would be included in the definition of EVERYONE, so I’m not sure why that’s difficult for you. Is it that you think every single person in the province would require the exact same type of care and so every single service for addiction should be exactly the same? Or could it be possible that different addicts have different needs when it comes to services to address their issues?

  2. Have to agree with Steve on this… Funding one people over another just breeds more discrimination… We already have tons of that going on in the province.. Fund one race, fund all races equally…..

  3. Hey Ross, how about putting the pressure on your MOHLTS minister and get our Level 3 treatment centre approved and opened??????? How many more have to die in the Soo and surrounding area?? How many more crimes to get money for drugs have to be commited??

    • Steve Childs I’ll have to disagree with this sentiment. While I do agree that mental illness is a priority across Canada as a whole, mental health crises in First Nations communities need the proper funding and attention of their own, too. Having a one size fits all approach across the province or country isn’t the solution we need. As far as I’m concerned funding for the First Nations communities is a step in the right direction. We just need to keep on top of it, keep taking about it, and keep raising awareness.

    • Steve Childs also if everyone is supposed to be treated equally we can freeze all infrastructure funding in cities across Ontario and reallocate those funds to ensure First Nations communities have clean drinking water. Sound good?

    • Steve Childs,

      It might help if you read the entire article. I will copy and paste below:

      ▪ For 2019-20, the government is investing a total of $174 million more in annualized funding for mental health and addictions programs, to fill urgent gaps in care.

      ▪ Ontario is investing $3.8 billion over 10 years to create new mental health and addictions services and expand existing programs.

      So, to be clear, that is $1.2 million out of $174 million ADDED dollars to the cause province-wide in this budget, with many more dollars allocated in the future for this particular area. This small piece of the available funds would have been applied for and granted based on the merits presented in the plan. Any other organization is ALSO welcome to apply for access to the funds. If they don’t know how to apply, they can ask for information from the Ministry or their member. If you want to know where the remaining dollars are going, follow the Ontario News website. (https://news.ontario.ca/newsroom/en). If you’re curious what supports are available locally, try calling the CMHA addictions and mental health information hotline at 705-759-5989 or the toll-free district number 1-855-366-1466. If you’re going to have an opinion on a subject, I’d recommend making sure it’s fully informed.

      • Excuse me, but if that is the case, why was it even mentioned that it was for specific groups of people?? This just another way of the provincial government in serious doubt of being re-elected and digging for votes early in the game. If it is for everyone, then say so,don’t specify…..

    • Steve Childs, yes, I absolutey DO know the rate among “others”…I’m not indigenous, I don’t live on the Rez. But here’s the thing…..our indigenous people, especially those on the Rez, have NEVER approached the level of mental health (or any other kind of health funding and services) that the rest of us have and had. NEVER. It is not taking away from OUR funding. Mental health issues have never recovered since they closed the provincial hospitals and did not have plans, services and funding in place for those booted of them. And they still can’t get their act together. That does NOT mean we should leave our indigenous people lagging far behind us for the foreseeable future.

    • Mo money, gotta keep that liberal vote. When do the “free stuff” for indigenous people stop. I get upset that the working canadians are funding all this free stuff. Just like the states, lib gov’t creates a dependent class called indigenous.

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