RICHMOND HILL (March 24, 2023) - Today PeerWorks, Ontario’s voice for lived experience and the association representing over fifty community-based peer and family support organizations applauds the Ontario government’s commitment to increase funding for community-based mental health organizations. In the budget document presented on March 23rd, the Ford government committed to increasing the budget for mental health services by $425 million per year for the next three years.
“Peer support organizations warmly receive and help thousands of Ontarians every year who have either fallen through the cracks of the healthcare system; cannot wait for a referral or for the multiple weeks to see a clinician; or are simply seeking social inclusion and community while maintaining their wellness for the long-term,” said Allyson Theodorou, Executive Director. “We are hopeful that the money promised in this budget will help peer support organizaitons build on the work they are doing on the front lines in communities across the province.”
Yesterday’s budget announcement builds on the commitments made in the government’s “Roadmap to Wellness” plan. The increase in funding is earmarked for mental health and addictions services that “support mental health programs that are community-led and delivered” and to “make a broad range of addictions services available across Ontario that are easy to access and there when needed.”
“This government has put tremendous resources behind mental health services, and we feel this is a perfect time for peer support organizations to receive the recognition and support they deserve,” said Theodorou. “Peer support organizations have been providing an invaluable service for those living with mental health and addiction issues since 1992 but have largely been overlooked in the current system. I look forward to working with the government on improving access to care in the current system in the coming months.”
Consumer Survivor Initiatives (CSIs) are a type of peer support organization with an independent board of directors and staffed by people with lived experience. These organizations receive “drop-in” visitors and work in cooperation with Community Mental Health Associations (CMHAs), hospitals, Family Health Teams and other institutions to alleviate wait times and backlogs in the sector. In addition, CSIs offer a “barrier-free” and anonymous option for people wishing to access mental health services for anyone wishing to seek support.
PeerWorks has been the voice of lived experience and community-based peer and family support for over 30 years. The association receives funding through a Transfer Payment Agreement (TPA) with Ontario Health, which is used to support over 50 local Consumer-Survivor Initiatives (CSIs), Peer Support Organizations (PSOs), and other programs across Ontario by highlighting the achievements and challenges of the many individuals who use these resources. The programs and services are found in independent community organizations, Community Mental Health Agencies, Hospitals, Universities and Colleges, Police Departments, First Responders, and Legal Associations. PeerWorks represents the interests of people with lived experience at provincial mental health and addiction policy planning and strategy implementation tables.
PeerWorks’ mission is to acquire, understand, and amplify the unique and distinct voice of Consumer-Survivor organizations across Ontario. The experiential expertise of our peers will shape the mental health system to achieve a valued, recovery-oriented, community-based approach to support.
Contact: Allyson Theodorou, Operations Director, PeerWorks | email@example.com | 416-484-8785 ext. 2