Ontario Expanding Mental Health Services for Children and Youth in Niagara

Published on June 16, 2021

St. Catharines - The Ontario government is providing over $31 million across the province to help improve access to specialized mental health treatment services, reduce waitlists and wait times, and support the mental health and wellbeing of children and youth by addressing the increased demand for services during COVID-19.  Locally, the province is providing $404,700 in support of Pathstone Mental Health in St. Catharines, as well as $37,500 for Niagara Health, which is a five percent across the board increase for both health care providers.

The funding is part of the government's commitment to invest $3.8 billion over 10 years to implement the Roadmap to Wellness, Ontario's plan to build a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system to serve Ontarians of all ages.

"Our government continues to make mental health and addictions a priority by making critical investments to ensure children, youth and their families have access to the supports they need to stay mentally healthy during these challenging times," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

"With this new funding, we continue our important work through Roadmap to Wellness to enhance existing services and build a treatment network that will support children and youth, families and communities across Ontario on their journey to wellness."

The pandemic has been extremely difficult for many young people, including unique challenges for students.  This funding will stabilize and expand existing services and will provide targeted investments in specialized mental health supports, improving access to innovative solutions to support the mental health and wellbeing of Ontario's children and youth.  It will ensure child and youth clients can receive in a timely manner the appropriate care in the right setting, improving outcomes and avoiding hospital admission.

Investments include:

  • $20 million for an across-the-board five per cent funding increase for all government funded children and youth mental health agencies that provide core mental health and addictions services as well as select Indigenous and specialized services to increase access to supports and decrease wait times for these services to address high demand, particularly during COVID-19 pandemic.
  • $3.5 million for the Step Up Step Down live-in treatment program for children and youth with complex mental health needs who require short-term supports to step down from hospital care to less intensive community-based services, or step up from less intensive supports to provide stabilization through intensive interventions.
  • $2.7 million at four new Youth Wellness Hubs across Ontario in Guelph, Renfrew, Timmins and Windsor for people between the ages of 12-25, to offer walk-in access to primary care and address their needs related to mental health, substance use, primary care, education, employment, training, housing and other community and social services.
  • $2.1 million in annualized funding to support a new Virtual Walk-in Counselling Program which provides children, youth and families across the province with virtual counselling with a clinician via telephone, video conferencing, text or chat.
  • $2 million for a new program to help children and youth who require additional one-on-one intensive treatment to transition in or out of specialized, live-in treatment programs, secure crisis units, and/or hospital.
  • $1 million to maintain Child and Youth Tele-Mental Health service levels and continue providing access to specialized psychiatric consultations through videoconferencing.

"Now, more than ever, it is critical that we make the necessary investments to support the mental health of our children and youth," said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

"Through our Roadmap to Wellness, we are focused on filling urgent gaps in mental health and addictions care and addressing extensive wait times for services.  We are committed to creating a system where Ontarians of all ages have access to the highest-quality mental health and addictions supports, when and where they need them."

"This investment is welcome news for a key local care provider like Pathstone Mental Health," said Sam Oosterhoff, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education and MPP for Niagara West.

"Having just reported an increase of 35 percent in cases involving children and youth compared to the year previous, local mental health supports are more critical than ever."

We are more than delighted about the much-needed investment from the province in support of mental health, specifically for children and youth," said Shaun Baylis, CEO of Pathstone Mental Health.

"It comes at a pivotal and critical time when the demand for mental health services is at an all-time high and shows no signs of slowing.  In Niagara, we have too many kids on our wait list, one that has been created over the course of the pandemic.  Today's funding announcement will help us begin to take kids off the wait list and put them into care at Pathstone."