Ontario Expanding Mental Health Services for Children and Youth

Ontario Expanding Mental Health Services for Children and Youth

Investments Part of Government’s Plan to Reduce Wait Times and Burden on Hospitals

June 01, 2021


TORONTO — The Ontario government is providing over $31 million 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. This 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 today’s 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.”

Quick Facts

  • This announced funding is in addition to the $10.5 million announced in February 2021 for the expansion of secure treatment services.
  • Under Roadmap to Wellness, Ontario has announced an increase of $525 million in annualized funding for mental health and addictions support since 2019-20. This includes $175 million for more mental health and addictions services and supports in 2021-2022 committed through the 2021 Budget, $176 million invested in October 2020 and new funding of $174 million invested in 2019-20.
  • In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, in 2020-21 the province invested up to $194 million in one-time emergency funding for mental health and addictions services, enabling Ontarians to access the services they need during these difficult times, including virtual supports which have been accessed by more than 75,000 Ontarians, including 32,900 who have accessed internet Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. In addition, as of late April, over 6,800 health care workers have access mental health and addictions supports virtually, including peer group discussions, training and education, iCBT and support from clinicians.
  • Visit COVID-19: Support for People to find information about the many available, confidential and free mental health and addictions services and supports for Ontarians of all ages.


“Our government is significantly increasing mental health supports — from the classroom to the community — to reduce wait times and best support the health and wellness of Ontario youth. We are investing more in mental health than any government in Ontario history, and today’s investment will build upon our commitment to protecting students and promoting positive mental health.”

– Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

“We’re seeing increasing demand for services as young people grapple with the challenges of the pandemic. At the same time, we’re hearing extremely positive feedback on the hubs— more than 95 per cent of youth would recommend the services to a friend, and that’s a result of engaging young people in the planning process. I am thrilled the YWHO network will grow with four hubs that meet local needs for different populations such as Francophone youth or those living in rural communities. This is a critical investment to help expand an integrated service model that works across the province.”

– Dr. Joanna Henderson
YWHO Executive Director

“The Integrated Youth Services Network of Wellington County and Guelph is profoundly grateful to the provincial government for recognizing the need to expand mental health support services for youth. The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on youth across Ontario. Through an integrated, connected network with locations across the province, our focus is to meet youth where they are locally — whether that be in rural communities or more densely populated cities. Investment in this one-stop-shop approach ensures that Ontario’s youth will have targeted, reliable access to the support they need at all stages and times.”

– Cyndy Moffat Forsyth
Director of the Integrated Youth Services Network of Wellington County and Guelph

“Increased annualized funding to help reduce wait times and improve mental health services – including, new funding to develop province-wide virtual mental health counselling – will help core service providers respond to the present and expected surge in child and youth mental health needs post-pandemic.”

– Karen Ingebrigtson and Linda Dugas
Child and Youth Mental Health Lead Agency Consortium co-chairs

“We are pleased that the Government of Ontario is recognizing the dire need to improve access to child and youth mental health treatment. Today’s commitment to increase funding of community mental health services will help to meet the growing demand of kids needing support for their deteriorating mental health now, through the summer and back to school in the Fall. We know through research, that many kids are not all right during this pandemic, and that there is an urgent need to address the inequitable impact of the pandemic on racialized and marginalized families.”

– Kimberly Moran
CEO of Children’s Mental Health Ontario

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