During question period Thursday, Ontario’s NDP critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Michael Mantha demanded that the Wynne government answer the call of northern First Nations communities struggling to access mental health services.
“If a family lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Blind River or Elliott Lake, they have direct access to Algoma Family Services children’s mental health services. However, if a family lives on a First Nation, they receive no children’s mental health services from Algoma Family Services,” said Mantha.
According to the Chief of the Serpent River First Nation, Indigenous children living in communities between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury wait up to two years for mental health support. Nogdawindamin Family and Community Services is seeking to take over providing children and mental health services from area agencies—a proposal supported by Algoma Family Services.
“Algoma Family Services has indicated that they don’t have the expertise or resources to provide any services to First Nations in my area or to Indigenous children who are in the care of Nogdawindamin Family and Community Services,” said Mantha. “This is why Nogdawindamin has submitted a proposal to your ministry to fund the delivery of culturally-appropriate children’s mental health services to our area’s First Nations communities. Your ministry simply answered that there is no money for this. Minister, every child matters.”
“Why is there no money for direct treatment of children’s mental health on First Nations in my area?” asked Mantha.