News Release ~ Improving Quality Mental Health and Addictions Services Across Ontario
TORONTO – Ontario’s mental health and addictions system is disconnected with uneven access to quality services, making it challenging for patients and families to navigate a confusing system and get the services they need.
That’s why Ontario’s Government for the People is protecting what matters most by taking action to improve quality mental health and addictions services and recover health care costs due to the opioid crisis. Today, Ontario will introduce the Foundations for Promoting and Protecting Mental Health and Addictions Services Act. If passed, this act would establish a Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence within Ontario Health and support the province’s participation in the national class action lawsuit British Columbia launched last year against more than 40 opioid manufacturers and wholesalers.
“In response to longstanding calls for stronger provincial leadership, our government is taking a system-wide approach to building a connected mental health and addictions system,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “The proposed Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence would ensure Ontario patients and families are able to access integrated, standardized, evidence-based care and services no matter where they live. The new centre would lay the foundation as we develop and implement a comprehensive mental health care strategy.”
Creating the centre follows recommendations made in 2010 by the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions, co-chaired by Elliott and established through a motion she presented. Within Ontario Health, the proposed Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence would:
- Establish a central point of accountability and oversight for mental health and addictions care.
- Be responsible for standardizing and monitoring the quality and delivery of services and clinical care across the province, to provide a better and more consistent patient experience.
- Provide support and resources to Ontario Health Teams, which is a new model to integrate care and funding, connect patients to the different types of care they need and help them navigate the system.
To respect taxpayers, the Foundations for Promoting and Protecting Mental Health and Addictions Services Act would, if passed, support Ontario’s participation in the national class action lawsuit British Columbia launched last year against more than 40 opioid manufacturers and wholesalers. The lawsuit was launched on behalf of all provincial, territorial and federal governments and aims to recover government health care costs incurred due to opioid-related disease, injury or illness. Our government intends to invest any award from this litigation directly into frontline mental health and addiction services.
“The opioid crisis has cost the people of Ontario enormously, both in terms of lives lost and its impact on health care’s front lines,” said Attorney General Caroline Mulroney. “If passed, this proposed legislation would support us taking further action to battle the ongoing opioid crisis and hold manufacturers and wholesalers accountable for their roles in it.”
Together, the government’s actions will protect what matters most, respect taxpayers and lay the strong foundation as the province develops and implements a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy.
- The government has held 19 consultations across the province with mental health and addictions community organizations, frontline service providers, hospitals, advocates, experts and people with lived experience.
- Establishing a Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence is part of the government’s plan to modernize our public health care system, which relentlessly focuses on patient experience and better connected care, to reduce wait times and end hallway health care. It is a major step toward integrating mental health and addictions care into all parts of the health care system.
- This year, the government is investing an additional $174 million to support desperately needed mental health and addictions services on the ground, in schools, communities and health centres across the province. This is part of Ontario’s commitment to invest $3.8 billion over 10 years to develop and implement a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy.