October 7, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Michael Tibollo, announced an investment of $176 million to expand access to critical mental health and addictions supports across the province during COVID-19. This announcement is part of the government’s commitment to spend $3.8 billion on mental health supports over 10 years.
Premier Ford and Associate Minister Tibollo were joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott. Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott responded to questions from media regarding the province’s ongoing response to COVID-19.
Earlier today, the government also announced Ontario’s Main Street Recovery Plan to help businesses continue to reopen and recover from COVID-19.
Investment to Expand Mental Health and Addictions Supports
This afternoon, Premier Ford and Associate Minister Tibollo announced an investment of $176 million to expand access to critical mental health and addictions supports across Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The investment announced today is part of the government’s commitment to spend $3.8 billion on mental health supports over 10 years. Today’s announcement will help address urgent gaps in care, enhance access to services, create new supports and expand programs in priority areas. The investment will support:
- Community-based services in English and French, including services for children and youth;
- Mental health and justice services;
- Supportive housing for individuals with serious mental health and addiction challenges, and who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless;
- Increased supports for Indigenous peoples, families, and communities;
- More hospital in-patient beds for mental health and addiction patients;
Today’s announcement also includes an investment in community and residential addictions services, including the hiring of nurse practitioners for detox services, addictions day and evening care, in-home and mobile withdrawal management services, and four additional inpatient beds at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
Questions from Media – Ongoing Response to COVID-19
Clarification of Thanksgiving Guidance
Prior to taking questions, Premier Ford clarified the government’s guidance ahead of the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, urging Ontarians to spend Thanksgiving with only those who live in the same household. Ontarians who live alone are permitted to pair up with one other household.
Premier Ford added that the complacency which was demonstrated during summer holiday weekends, including the July 4th weekend in the U.S. and the August Civic Holiday weekend in Canada, contributed to spikes in cases. The government is hoping to avoid a similar spike following Thanksgiving.
Inaccessibility of Testing for Vulnerable Populations
When asked about the difficulties that Ontario’s homeless population may experience in accessing testing, now that the province has shifted to an appointment-based model, Minister Elliott emphasized that the government’s objective is to make sure that anyone who needs a test is able to receive one. She added that mobile testing units are being used to ensure that COVID-19 tests are accessible to shelter populations.
Trends in Provincial Case Numbers
Premier Ford was asked about his claim yesterday that Ontario has experienced a “slight” flattening of the second wave curve. He clarified, noting that compared with modelling released last week, which demonstrated that the province could see 1,000 new cases per day by mid-October, this week’s daily case numbers are in the low-600s to mid-500s and are not as severe as expected. Premier Ford added that there is still a risk of a sharp rise in Ontario’s case numbers over the next few weeks, and that the effects of the recent tightening of public health measures likely won’t be observed for another one to two weeks.
Ontario’s Main Street Recovery Plan
Earlier today, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, Prabmeet Sarkaria, announced the Ontario government’s Main Street Recovery Plan to support businesses in reopening and recovering from COVID-19.
The Main Street Recovery Plan includes:
- A one-time grant of up to $1,000 for eligible main street small businesses in service sectors to help offset the costs of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Ontario’s Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network, which includes 47 Small Business Enterprise Centres across the province, where small businesses can access information on local, provincial, and federal programs.
- Digital Main Street Squads to help small businesses grow online.
- Mental health supports for families, frontline workers, young people, children and Indigenous communities.
- Ontario’s Small Business Recovery Webpage to provide access to small business supports.
Associate Minister Sarkaria also announced the government’s intent to introduce legislation to remove hurdles faced by small businesses. If passed, proposed regulatory and legislative changes would explore permanently allowing restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food with takeout or delivery orders. Proposed legislation would also permanently allow 24/7 deliveries to retail businesses, restaurants, and distribution facilities, and support the province’s taxi and limousine industry by increasing fines for illegal operators.