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'Many kids are not all right': Mental health services for youth expanding in Newmarket, Aurora

The province announced $31 million is going to Cedar Centre, Southlake, Addiction Services, Family Services, York Hills Centre to help reduce wait times, ease burden at hospitals

York Region mental health advocates are welcoming $31 million in provincial funding directed at the many children and youth who "are not all right" during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"We are pleased that the government of Ontario is recognizing the dire need to improve access to child and youth mental health treatment. We know through research, that many kids are not all right during this pandemic, and that there is an urgent need to address the inequitable impact of the pandemic on racialized and marginalized families,” said Kimberly Moran, CEO of Children’s Mental Health Ontario.

Child and youth mental health service providers in Newmarket, Aurora and Richmond Hill will receive funding, which includes: 

  • $543,900 for York Hills Centre for Children, Youth and Families in Richmond Hill to provide additional counselling and therapy staff to support high needs, underserved communities including Indigenous child and youth clients. The funding will increase play therapy staffing for younger children; 
  • $64,600 for Family Services of York Region in Newmarket to support counselling and prevention work with diverse and marginalized communities; 
  • $18,500 for the Cedar Centre in Newmarket to support counselling and prevention work;
  • $38,300 to Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket to support crisis counselling; and,
  • $3,000 to the Addictions Services of York Region in Aurora to increase direct services for high needs clients in York Region. 

This is in addition to the $10.5 million announced in February 2021 for the expansion of secure treatment services, according to a news release.

“With this funding, we continue our important work through Roadmap to Wellness to enhance existing services and build a treatment network that will support children and youth, families, and communities in Newmarket, Aurora and across Ontario on their journey to wellness,” said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health, and MPP for Newmarket-Aurora.

“The ministry’s $31-million investment in programs and services that will provide additional mental health supports to children, youth and their families across the province of Ontario is not only a significant commitment to this shared responsibility, but an investment in the brightest of futures,” said Alison Peck, executive director of Cedar Centre.

According to Children’s Mental Health Ontario, in a survey conducted during the beginning of the pandemic, two-thirds of youth said their mental health had deteriorated since the start of the pandemic.

Young people and students have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic.

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant mental health challenges for all Ontarians, particularly families and youth. I am beyond excited that mental health service providers across the province are receiving over $31 million to address increased demand for services while continuing to deliver the highest quality care. Access to mental health services is incredibly important, and this much needed funding through Ontario’s Roadmap to Wellness will only strengthen and support our community here in Aurora,” said Michael Parsa, MPP for Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill.

Province-wide investments include:

  • $20 million for an across-the-board five per cent funding increase for all government funded children and youth mental health agencies that provide core mental health and addictions services as well as select Indigenous and specialized services to increase access to supports and decrease wait times for these services to address high demand, particularly during COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • $3.5 million for the Step Up Step Down live-in treatment program for children and youth with complex mental health needs who require short-term supports to step down from hospital care to less intensive community-based services, or step up from less intensive supports to provide stabilization through intensive interventions. 
  • $2 million for a new program to help children and youth who require additional one-on-one intensive treatment to transition in or out of specialized, live-in treatment programs, secure crisis units, and/or hospital.

For individuals aged under 18, visit Resources Around Me to locate child and youth mental health services in your area. You can also visit Ontario’s website to find mental health supports for children and youth under the age of 18. Information is also available at Health Care Options web portal.

For public inquiries call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only).