More than Just a Number: Addressing the Homelessness, Addiction, and Mental Health Crisis in the North
August 2022 | Holly Parsons
The current – and worsening – homelessness, addiction, and mental health crisis in Northern Ontario strongly indicates that current services and programs are not adequately addressing the needs of Northerners. However, as this paper finds, there is little room in municipal budgets to provide additional dollars toward addressing the homelessness, mental health and addictions crisis.
This paper identifies eight evidence-driven and economically viable strategies decision-makers can take to address these barriers and service gaps, both directly and indirectly:
- Provide long-term funding for capital repairs on community housing units;
- Amend the Health Protection and Promotion Act, 1990 to define a Northern Service Hub and provide additional funding to make it available in communities;
- Establish a joint action taskforce to collect data and intelligence on the underlying and systematic retention issues of health care professionals in Northern Ontario;
- Support new and existing Housing First programs;
- Support new and existing culturally sensitive community housing facilities for Indigenous peoples;
- Establish a Northern Mental Health and Addictions Centre to address the unique challenges of service and program delivery in Northern Ontario;
- Contract a third-party operator for interfacility patient transfers to relieve the workload of paramedics; and
- Establish mandated mobile crisis intervention teams (MCIT) in municipalities throughout Northern Ontario.