As some residents of Simcoe County and beyond continue to see the tragic effects of a rise in opioid addictions, the province has stepped in with millions in funding for supports to combat the issue.
Queen’s Park announced on Wednesday it is committing $32.7 million towards addiction services and supports, including targetted treatment for opioid addiction.
“The devastating impacts of mental health and addictions challenges can be felt in every community across the province, and our government is committed to supporting all Ontarians on their journey to wellness,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “By investing in addictions services across the continuum of care, from prevention to recovery, we are making it easier for people to find and access support where and when they need it.”
Camille Quenneville, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division, says her organization supports the province’s evidence-based approach. “Statistics from Public Health Ontario show that 2020 was the worst year on record for opioid-related deaths,” she said via media release Wednesday. “More than 2,400 people died last year, a 60 per cent increase over 2019 when more than 1,500 deaths were reported.”
“While today’s investment is welcome, CMHA Ontario would encourage the government to go further to support individuals and communities struggling with substance use issues,” she added.
In May of this year, there were 78 emergency room visits connected to opioid overdoses in Simcoe-Muskoka, compared to 61 in May of 2020.
Funding has been earmarked for the following initiatives:
- $2.25 million to support elements of the Toronto-based opioid response proposal by the Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network to support the individual’s journey across the continuum of care, including expanding the Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinics; establishing addiction consultation services in acute care settings; and coordinating and integrating services between Toronto providers to make transitioning between supports easier for clients and improving continuity of care.
- $6.9 million in provincial opioid response investments including adding harm reduction workers province-wide; expanding RAAM clinics and establishing Acute Consultation Services in areas with high rates of opioid use.
- Over $18.8 million in bed-based investments for adults and youth who need intensive supports, including adding 30 new youth treatment beds at Pine River Institute, a multidisciplinary program serving children and youth ages 13 to 19 with addictive behaviours and other mental health challenges; adding new adult addiction treatment beds; supporting existing bed-based treatment services including withdrawal management services at Bluewater Health and at Sault Area Hospital; and coordinating the transitions in care between service providers.
- $4.75 million for community-based services to support lifelong stabilization and recovery, including supporting an innovative, virtual intensive treatment program at Renascent; expanding appropriate supports for vulnerable and/or racialized populations, and expanding peer support services.