Provincial funding boost in mental health services welcome news for Windsor-Essex health officials
Initial reaction to Ontario’s 2023 budget indicates it’s being well received by pharmacists and mental health care officials in Windsor-Essex.
But, those same officials are still waiting for more details about how millions of dollars in funding will be distributed.
“It's always a great day when we receive news that the government is providing funds for mental health and addictions,” said Kim Willis, director of communications and mental health promotion with the Windsor-Essex branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).
The province said it will increase efforts to help Ontarians who deal with mental health or addictions issues with a $425 million funding boost over three years.
“It's the largest increase to base funding in a decade,” Willis said. “So really long overdue. We've been advocating for additional funding to maintain the level of care that we provide, so very welcome news.”
The province said the money will be utilized in community-led programs and to make a broad range of addictions services available across Ontario that are easy to access.
“That being said, the devil is in the details sometimes, so we're just still waiting for more clarification on how that funding will be rolled out,” Willis said.
“We have seen a 15 per cent increase in the number of clients we're serving here. And we know that's just the people that come here. So certainly the need is out there. And again, this is the biggest increase in a decade. So really great news and we're able to maintain the level of care and quality that our patients and clients need.”
“Initial reaction is quite positive,” said Bill Marra, the president and CEO of Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare.
Marra explained there’s a $2 million investment that speaks to a housing component that appeals to healthcare and addictions specialists.
“It's housing that's going to be dedicated to individuals that are in recovery. And an incredible important component of recovery is stabilizing the life of the individual above and beyond the challenge with an addiction,” Marra said. “So we're pleased to see that.”
“We're also host here to the regional Children's Center and Hotel Dieu Health Care. We're very pleased to see considerable investment in children and youth mental health, five per cent budget increase as well based budget increase, and some barrier free initiatives around improving access to services. We really want to eliminate our wait times.”
Marra said HDGH is also pleased to see considerable investment into the long-term care sector, noting the hospital has a proposal pending with the province.
“All around really good news,” he said. “Now it's a matter of determining what the details look like.”
Meanwhile, pharmacists in Ontario are being given the power to prescribe new medications for common ailments such as acne, canker sores and diaper dermatitis.
“It's great,” exclaimed Tim Brady, owner of Brady’s Drug Store.
“I mean, we've just a couple months ago started the first 13 and actually, I had somebody come in. It's just a really convenient issue.”
However, Brady remains cautious about the details, hoping that pharmacists’ scope will continue to expand.
“It still puts us behind other provinces. I think Alberta is the leader with like 32, and we're looking for things especially with the drug shortages, you know, hopefully will expand to things like interchangeable, interchanging meds and such,” Brady said.
“But it's a good move forward. It's better for the people of Ontario. It allows them and the people from Essex County when it's, you know, six, seven at night your doctor is not around, this is going to give you an option to get care now instead of waiting or suffering for another 24 hours until you can find a physician.”
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