Ontario Investing in Mental Health to Improve Community Safety and Support Frontline Workers

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Ontario Investing in Mental Health to Improve Community Safety and Support Frontline Workers

Government Addresses Impacts of Fractured Mental Health System on Justice Sector

May 9, 2019 9:30 A.M.

Ministry of the Solicitor General

TORONTO — Solicitor General Sylvia Jones was joined today at Toronto East Detention Centre by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, to highlight provincial investments in mental health services that will improve safety for the people of Ontario and better support frontline workers, including correctional officers.

"Our police, courts, and correctional staff are under pressure as they deal with a fractured mental health care system and an addictions crisis," said Jones. "The result? People don't get the help they need. Our jails are more dangerous. Our staff deal with increased violence, operational stress injuries, and mental health challenges of their own. And our families are put at risk as our justice system is stretched too thin. That's why our government is acting."

The $18.3 million in new funding will support those affected by mental health and addictions challenges in the justice sector, including:

  • Direct support for corrections staff to address operational stress injuries and other mental health challenges
  • New mobile crisis teams that will help police officers and other first responders manage sensitive situations when assisting people with severe mental illness
  • De-escalation tools and training for police officers to better respond to interactions with people with mental health and addictions issues
  • Training for corrections staff to help manage stressful situations with inmates who have mental health and addictions issues.

 "Our government is keeping our promise to make mental health and addictions a priority," said Elliott. "That's why we're taking a multi-ministerial approach to solving Ontario's mental health and addictions challenges. Today's investment will go directly towards services in the justice sector that will support the brave men and women who keep us safe, while improving community safety for all Ontarians."

Many frontline staff, including correctional staff and police officers, face mental health issues of their own. As they're increasingly called upon to work with others dealing with mental health and addictions problems, staff have reported increased stress and operational stress injuries, and asked for training to better manage their challenging jobs.

 "We are prioritizing changes to the justice sector to ensure an integrated, efficient and sustainable justice system that holds criminals accountable for their actions, puts the victim at the centre of the justice system, and protects the people of Ontario," said Jones. "But this work will not be successful if we don't recognize the impact of mental health and addictions and provide supports for our own frontline staff."

Quick Facts

  • Investing in mental health and addictions services is part of Ontario’s plan to create a modern, sustainable, and patient-centered public health care system.
  • The government will invest $3.8 billion over 10 years to develop and implement a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy.
  • The Ministry of the Solicitor General recently announced a comprehensive mental health program for Ontario Provincial Police personnel and their families.