Ontario Strengthening Mental Health Services in the Justice System

Published on February 02, 2021

ELGIN-MIDDLESEX-LONDON - The Ontario government is investing $6.48 million to strengthen mental health and addiction supports for victims, front-line workers, Indigenous families and youth involved in the justice system. The funding will allow victim assistance organizations to hire more staff, and provide safe housing and mental health services for First Nations youth and families and help community organizations provide COVID-19 emergency services.

"Through this investment we are making our communities safer and healthier by expanding mental health supports in Ontario's justice system, particularly for victims of crime, youth, Indigenous families and front-line workers," said Attorney General Doug Downey. "By supporting existing and new mental health services we will ensure more Ontarians can access local help when and where they need it, including in Northern, rural and Indigenous communities."

This investment is part of the historic $147 million in mental health and addictions supports announced in December 2020 and will be used to:

  • Hire staff and increase mental health supports for victim crisis assistance organizations offering intervention services to victims and families in the immediate aftermath of a crime;
  • Make it easier for community organizations to safely provide supervised access services during the pandemic for children and families impacted by mental health and/or addiction issues;
  • Establish safe, secure housing and mental health services for isolated First Nations youth, adults and families and at-risk young adults in Kenora, including a new Land-Based Healing and Wellness program at Black Sturgeon Lake;
  • Help provide COVID-19 emergency services and tailored, culturally appropriate mental health and addiction supports for youth at the London, Toronto Northwest and Toronto Downtown East justice centres.

"It has always been our mission to ensure individuals and families who need the extra help have access to the highest-quality mental health and addictions care that meets their unique needs," said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "This investment builds on our commitment to increasing access to Ontario's mental health and addictions system and ensuring our most vulnerable populations are fully supported during the COVID-19 outbreak."

Local allocation details are as follows:

  • CMHA Middlesexis receiving $75,000 in one-time funds for COVID-19 prevention and response supports and additional professional mental health and addictions counselling/services for the London Justice Centre clients.


The London Justice Centre Pilot, which opened on September 24, 2020, provides targeted supports for young adults aged 18-24 to help them avoid and exit the criminal justice system and reconnect them with school and work.


To respond to COVID-19, local needs and justice system challenges, the Pilot includes virtual court processes to safeguard access to justice during the pandemic as well as a tailored Young Adult Early Intervention program and expanded pre-charge and post-charge diversion.


Operating out of Youth Opportunities Unlimited in downtown London, the Justice Centre Pilot is bringing together partners to get young adults the supports they need, including early and meaningful connections to skills and job training programs, education supports, and mental health & addictions services. Justice Centre Pilot clients have begun receiving critical services from local partner agency, St. Leonard’s Community Services. 


In addition, early training has taken place with the defence bar, law enforcement and community agencies in order to ensure the success of the Pilot. 


“It is critical that vulnerable young members of our community receive the support and guidance they need at this incredibly challenging time,” said Jeff Yurek, MPP. “This funding will help to provide wraparound services with live-changing impacts in the London area.”



  • The Black Sturgeon Lake site will bring First Nations adults, youth and families together in a physically distanced environment to benefit from current and new mental health and wellness programs, including healing circles, Right to Play and youth language revitalization.
  • Justice centres place health and social services with law enforcement and court facilities in a community setting. The centres address the root causes of crime and include violence intervention programs, where needed.