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LETTER: Government responses to the mental health, addiction and homelessness emergency


This is an update on how governments have taken on actionable policies and how their financial commitments address this emergency in Niagara (also declared by Toronto [homelessness only], Hamilton, Grimsby [no homelessness emergency- but adds a housing affordability emergency], Niagara Falls, Thorold, St Catharines, and Welland).

Ontario Government response to emergency (an increase to services without burdening the Niagara ratepayer):

  1. $425 million dollars (Ontario-wide) with a 5% increase to Ministry of Health-led organizations who provide mental health and addiction services, such as Pathstone Children’s Mental Health. (Niagara Allocation TBD)
  2. $10 million dollars in new funding for Indigenous Supported Housing (Niagara Allocation TBD)
  3. $20.8 million dollars for homelessness prevention exclusively for Niagara Region
  4. Premier Doug Ford’s commitment to building more drug-rehab treatment facilities in Niagara Region.

Local government actions for the emergency (based on recommendations submitted to Niagara’s Civic leaders by myself)

  1. City of Hamilton is exploring a facilitated process for members of the public to take in someone privately who is homeless to take stress off an overworked, understaffed and long underfunded mental health, homelessness and addiction system(s)
  2. Grimsby Town Council has endorsed the establishment of a domestic abuse focused emergency shelter in Niagara West
  3. Grimsby Town Council has also endorsed requesting the Ontario government fund full mental health and addictions services (with the appropriate staffing) in the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital
  4. St. Catharines City Council unanimously condemned the discrimination of people experiencing mental health, homelessness and addiction within the city jurisdiction

I have also asked the Town of Pelham to consider the following motion:

Request for Town of Pelham Council Endorsements:

  1. That the Town of Pelham endorse the Niagara Region, City of Hamilton, motions declaring states of emergency for mental health, homelessness, addiction
  2. That the Town of Pelham endorse Town of Grimsby motion declaring declare a housing affordability emergency
  3. That the Town of Pelham endorse City of St. Catharines motion condemning the discrimination of the mentally ill, homeless and addicted
  4. That the Town of Pelham endorse City of Toronto motion declaring a state of emergency on homelessness

Actions for Pelham Town Council on Reconciliation:

  1. That the Town of Pelham commit to highlighting and showcasing more literature on Indigenous wellness in the Town of Pelham library
  2. That the Town of Pelham endorse Steven Soos' initiative for an Indigenous mobile mental health crisis unit pilot project for the Niagara Region

Actions for the mental health, homelessness and addictions emergency within the developmental services sector:

  1. That the Town of Pelham request that the Ford government commit to more funding for residential services for adults and children struggling with an intellectual and/or developmental disability. That the Ford government also commit to addressing lengthy waitlists for supportive housing options to people with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities
  2. That the Town of Pelham also request the Ford government commit to addressing the lengthy waitlists and address funding/staffing gaps to autism services
  3. That the Ford government commit to assisting in the recruiting of Developmental Support Workers to address the shortage of workers for developmental disability services

Steven Soos