April 5, 2023
Yesterday Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) and several community partners met with the Honourable Sylvia Jones to discuss the homelessness, mental health and addictions crisis impacting Ontario’s cities. OBCM thanked Minister Jones for the new funding recently announced in this year’s provincial budget of $202 million each year to the Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) and Indigenous Supportive Housing Program, and over half a billion dollars to support mental health and addictions.
At the meeting, OBCM Mayors presented their Health and Homelessness Strategy to Minister Jones, which provides recommendations to address this growing crisis in Ontario’s cities. The recommendations, when implemented, will alleviate the enormous strain this crisis has had on the healthcare system, policing and other emergency services, and the well being of our downtown areas across the province.
“Today’s meeting was a testament to our government’s seriousness to work with all our partners, including municipalities and partner organizations like CMHA Ontario, to better community services for every Ontarian,” said Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Sylvia Jones. “It is why we are working to connect you to more convenient care, closer to home, why we have increased base funding to mental health providers, and why we are investing $202 million for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness to find a place to call home. We look forward to working with our partners, like OBCM to ensure vital programs and services are available for those who need it most.”
“We were very happy to meet with Minister Jones today to thank her for the funding municipalities advocated for that was announced in the 2023 provincial budget for homelessness prevention and mental health and addictions programs,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Mayor of Mississauga and OBCM Chair. “We are encouraged that the province is making this a health priority, and is committed to working with municipalities to create innovative and accessible services and programs to tackle this crisis head on, to help the most vulnerable in our communities.”
OBCM’s Health and Homelessness Strategy aims to initiate stronger community partnerships and break down care silos to facilitate better access to 24/7 low barrier supports through a whole-of-government approach that includes direct pathways to housing for marginalized Ontarians. Municipalities strongly recommend a coordinated system response including the wrap-around health care support services people need.
OBCM was joined at the meeting by partner organizations including, the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Kingston Health Sciences Centre and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
“We appreciate the opportunity to meet with Minister Jones alongside our municipal partners to thank her for the targeted funding for community mental health and addictions care and supportive housing in the 2023 provincial budget. With an estimated 25 to 50 per cent of homeless people living with a mental health condition, this funding will make a difference to those most vulnerable in society. We look forward to continuing our conversations with the province and our partners to address these important issues.”
– Camille Quenneville, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
“Thank you to Minister Jones for meeting with us to discuss the importance of accelerating health and economic solutions to the opioid overdose crisis, homelessness crisis and mental health “echo pandemic” and the need to support communities, sectors and individuals that are disproportionately impacted. The prosperity of our communities, businesses and health care system depends on dedicating appropriate resources to addressing these challenges.
– Keanin Loomis, Vice President, Member Services, Ontario Chamber of Commerce
“It is great that Minister Jones is consulting broadly on the topic of homelessness prevention, mental health and addictions, and appreciated the opportunity to provide perspective on this important issue and how it also affects hospitals and the broader healthcare community. We look forward to working with Minister Jones, the municipality, our local Ontario Health Team, and other stakeholders in developing collaborative solutions to this urgent issue.”
– David Pichora, President and CEO, Kingston Health Sciences Centre
About Ontario’s Big City Mayors
Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM), formerly known as the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, includes mayors of 29 single and lower-tier cities with a population of 100,000 or more, who collectively represent nearly 70 percent of Ontario’s population. OBCM advocates for issues and policies important to Ontario’s largest cities.
Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Chair
Michelle Baker, Executive Director