Ontario's 2023 Budget provides a much-needed boost for mental health
March 24, 2023
The Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) was pleased to see the Government of Ontario table a 2023 Provincial Budget that creates opportunities to strengthen and expand critical supports that Ontarians rely on for their mental health and wellness.
As the largest group of mental health providers in the province, Ontario’s 22,000 Registered Social Workers are on the frontlines of a growing mental health crisis. This is why we called for a cross-ministerial effort to expand access to mental health and addictions services across systems, including health, long-term care, schools, community-based mental health, addictions agencies and more, in OASW’s 2023 Pre-Budget Submission.
We are encouraged that the Province has heard our recommendations and has responded with several critical investments in its 2023 Budget.
We commend the Province for a significant and historic increase in funding to community-based mental health and addiction service providers of $425 million over the next three years, including a five per cent base budget increase for the sector. This funding will help mitigate the ongoing challenges in health human resources to support the hardworking staff of these agencies, including many social workers, to provide essential supports in our communities. This much-needed funding boost represents a big step towards all Ontarians being able to access the right supports, in the right place, at the right time.
We are pleased to see the government continuing to invest in more crucial supports for Ontarians, including:
- $60 million over two years to increase and expand existing primary care teams and create up to 18 new teams, including doctors, nurses and social workers, in communities with the greatest need.
- $170 million over three years for the new Ready, Set, Go program to provide youth transitioning from care settings with greater access to financial support, social work services and other resources to support this important and difficult transition in their lives.
- Investing $5.5 million this year to build new Behavioural Specialized Units in long‐term care homes, including approximately 70 new specialized beds, to expand care for individuals with complex needs.
- Accelerating funding to bring 2023–24 funding levels up to $569 million for the home and community care sector, to stabilize the workforce, decrease wait times and make it easier to connect with appropriate care at home.
- Investing $202 million in supportive housing through the Homelessness Prevention Program and Indigenous Supportive Housing Program.
- Providing $1.4 billion over three years to adjust annually to inflation the core allowances for the Ontario Disability Support Program and the maximum monthly amount for the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities Program, starting in July 2023.
OASW looks forward to continuing to work with government on these and other initiatives to ensure that Ontarians can access the supports they need to improve and sustain their mental health and wellness.