Three northern groups are asking the province to work with and support municipalities and District Social Service Administration Boards (DSSABs) to develop specific strategies around housing, mental health, addictions and homelessness.
The Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association (NOSDA), Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) and the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) met with a multi-minister delegation at a municipal conference in Ottawa last week.
“Having the three organizations, representing 144 municipalities and 10 DSSABs, coming together shows how critical these issues are to northern Ontario communities and the need for this government to help our municipalities address these concerning issues in a way that recognizes the unique challenges of the North,” says Danny Whalen, President of FONOM.
The groups shared their experiences and challenges and presented a research paper written by the Northern Ontario Policy Institute, titled “More than Just a Number: Addressing the Homelessness, Addiction, and Mental Health Crisis in the North”.
The paper details eight strategies:
- 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
- Establish mandated mobile crisis intervention teams (MCIT) in municipalities throughout Northern Ontario.
“The north now has seven MPPs on the government side that represent northern Ontario and they welcome new ideas so we can collectively advocate for the North,” says Vic Fedeli, Nipissing MPP.
NOSDA, FONOM and NOMA officials met with the provincial delegation at the annual Association of Municipalities (AMO) conference.
***With files from Richard Coffin