Ontario Expanding Mental Health and Addictions Supports for Frontline Health Care Workers

As part of the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario, the Ontario government is investing $12.4 million over two years to provide existing and expanded mental health and addictions supports for all frontline health care workers across the province. This investment will protect our progress in the fight against COVID-19 by supporting the workforce of the acute care, long-term care, and home and community care sectors in their efforts to provide high-quality care and service to patients, long-term care residents, and clients.

“Ontario’s frontline health care workers have been unwavering in their dedication to protect the health and safety of Ontarians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and just as they are there for us, we need to be there for them,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “To protect the progress the people of Ontario have made against COVID‑19, our government is ensuring that health care workers have access to the supports they need to ensure their mental wellness and address the impact of the pandemic.”

The COVID‑19 pandemic has had a significant impact on frontline health care workers’ mental health. This funding will provide continued rapid access to the following expanded or new treatment options and supports specifically for this workforce:

  • $5.9 million for a suite of mental health and addictions services for frontline health care workers through a number of hospitals, including self-referral and intake services, weekly online peer discussion groups, and access to confidential support from a clinician.
  • $1.9 million for increased access to clinical psychologists specializing in trauma, mood, and anxiety disorders and other psychological conditions through the COVID-19 Psychological Support program.
  • $4.6 million for workplace mental health training to provide frontline health care workers and workplaces with the tools to foster mental wellness, including training for management and leadership, frontline health care workers and non-clinical staff.

The government is partnering with five hospitals, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division, and the Ontario Psychological Association to offer these mental health and addictions supports.

“Throughout the pandemic, our government has ensured that our frontline health care heroes had the resources they needed to confront this threat. However, the pandemic has had and continues to have serious impact on the wellbeing of so many of our frontline health care workers,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “That is why our 2021 Fall Economic Statement included additional funding to help provide the mental health supports they need, so they can continue to provide high-quality care and services.”

This expands and builds on prior COVID-19 investments to support emergency funding for mental health services to support the health workforce. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020-21 the province invested up to $194 million in one-time emergency funding for mental health and addictions services. Ontario has also invested $23.6 million to support internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which has been accessed by over 68,900 Ontarians since the province launched this program during the COVID-19 pandemic, including over 9,800 health and long-term care workers care workers and $2.5 million in Breaking Free Online, an innovative therapy tool that makes it faster and easier for Ontarians to access safe and effective addictions supports.

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