Canada, Ontario and First Nations leaders to expand access to mental health services across Ontario

News release

All First Nations in Ontario will have access to a mental wellness team

April 11, 2018 - Ottawa, ON - Indigenous Services Canada

First Nations leaders, the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada recognize that mental wellness is a priority shared among First Nations communities, families and individuals that must be addressed by services that are designed and delivered by First Nations.  

Today, Canada’s Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott, Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services, Michael Coteau, and Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day announced a joint initiative to establish 19 new mental wellness teams hosted by First Nations organizations and selected by First Nations leaders.   

The Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario are each providing $5 million per year starting in 2018-19 to support the implementation of these teams. The 19 mental wellness teams are located across the province to ensure access in all First Nations communities.

This initiative is part of a comprehensive strategy where Canada and Ontario are working directly with Ontario First Nations to improve the quality and cultural safety of health services to achieve better health outcomes and bridge health inequities that persist between First Nations and other Ontario residents.  

Recent actions include:

  • The development of a Relationship Agreement with the Grand Council Treaty #3, Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Mushkegowuk Tribal Council to respond to the social emergencies in remote and isolated communities.
  •  A commitment by Canada and Ontario for health transformation in Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Anishnawbek Nation, Grand Council Treaty 3 and Six Nations of the Grand River.
  • Collaboration to increase access to addictions prevention and treatment, including the joint funding of a healing and treatment centre in Fort Frances.


“Access to mental wellness supports is crucial for First Nations communities in Ontario, and across Canada. This funding is part of the Government of Canada’s focus on improving services for Indigenous peoples and supporting the path to Indigenous self-determination.”

The Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Indigenous Services

“We have reached has reached a unique agreement with the federal government to help provide important mental health and prevention services and supports for First Nations.  This will help Indigenous children and youth receive mental health services as quickly and as close to home as possible.”

Michael Coteau
Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services

“Our children and youth are currently in crisis. On March 1, 2018, AFN Youth Council Co-chair Mark Hill, of Six Nations, reminded the National Chief and Regional Chiefs that mental wellness is the number one priority amongst youth nation-wide. Canada can no longer remain on the sidelines as our young Peoples, some of whom are as young as 10 years old, commit suicide on an almost daily basis.  However, mental wellness is only the beginning. To truly end this crisis, we must address the determinants of health, from proper housing and drinking water, to education, employment, and long term sustainable, happy, healthy communities.
On behalf of the Chiefs of Ontario, I welcome the addition of these new mental wellness teams.  The announcement of this innovative approach to funding mental wellness initiatives follows many months of discussions between First Nations in Ontario and both levels of governments. The joint funding is a true collaborative funding model which can serve future initiatives in addressing the social determinants of health.”
Isadore Day
Ontario Regional Chief

Quick facts

  • In Budget 2017, the Government of Canada committed more than $118 million over five years for mental health programming. This is in addition to $350 million that the Government of Canada invests annually for community-based mental health and addictions programming on-reserve and in the territories.

  • Budget 2018 commits to investing an additional $200 million over five years, with $40 million per year ongoing, to enhance the delivery of culturally appropriate addictions treatment and prevention services in Indigenous communities with high needs.

  • As of March 31, 2018, the Government of Canada supports 45 mental wellness teams to serve over 326 communities across Canada.

  • Mental wellness teams are designed and driven by communities with a strong emphasis on enhancing cultural safety and collaboration between community experts and others who provide client-centered care.

  • Mental wellness teams provide a range of ongoing, day-to-day mental health services such as:

    • assessment and intake, referrals, aftercare, cultural counselling, clinical services, Elder advisory service, mental health intervention counselling, community outreach, group/sharing circles, cultural ceremonies, land-based programs, training, and individual support.
  • Ontario is investing $2.1 billion over four years to support the development of a more accessible and better integrated mental health and addictions system across the lifespan. This includes:

    • Increased funding over the next four years to $79 million for community-based prevention and well-being for Indigenous children and youth, with a focus on programs and services that are culturally appropriate.

      o    An additional $8 million over the same time period will be allocated to base funding for Indigenous child and youth mental health service providers.
  • Ontario’s First Nations Health Action Plan is investing nearly $222 million over three years (starting in 2016-17) in the areas of primary care, public health and health promotion, seniors’ care and hospital services, and life promotion and crisis support.

  • Ontario is working with Indigenous partners to address the legacy of residential schools, close gaps and remove barriers, support Indigenous culture, and reconcile relationships with Indigenous peoples. Ontario is investing more than $250 million over three years on programs and actions focused on reconciliation, which will be developed and evaluated in close partnership with our Indigenous partners.

  • As part of Walking Together, the province’s Long-Term Strategy to End Violence against Indigenous Women, Ontario is investing $80 million over three years to the Family Well-Being Program to reduce the effects of violence on Indigenous families and support families in crisis.  This program is designed, developed and delivered by and for First Nation, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous partners in their own communities.

Associated links


Rachel Rappaport
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Indigenous Services

Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services
Melissa Di Costanzo
Minister's Office

Geneviève Oger
Communications Branch

Chiefs of Ontario
Bryan Hendry
Senior Advisor on Policy and Strategic Communications and
Interim Chief of Staff to Regional Chief Day

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

Join the conversation about Indigenous peoples in Canada:
Twitter: @GCIndigenous
Facebook: @GCIndigenous
Instagram: @gcindigenous

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: