Ontario announced $5 million in funding to focus on providing all First Nations people will the services they need closer to home.

Minister of Children, Todd Smith, made the announcement through a release on Tuesday. Smith said the investment will support development and support for frontline workers, including youth-focused outreach workers along with mental health training.

The plan is to provide culturally appropriate support.

“It’s important to be responsive to the diverse needs of Indigenous communities through programs and services that are designed by Indigenous peoples and delivered in a culturally appropriate way,” Smith said in the release. “I’m proud to be working with Indigenous partners to put these new supports in place to make sure help is there when people need it.”

The money is part of $174 million in additional funding this year from the government to bridge critical gaps in services across Ontario. It is also meant to ensure mental health and addictions service providers have stable, long-term funding. Ontario said in the release the money will be made available every year from now on.

Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health, said the government is making mental health and addictions a priority. “Investments like these are part of our long-term plan to build a modern and integrated public health care system that is focused on local needs, the patient experience and better-connected care,” Elliott said in the release.

Roughly 20 organizations will be supported by the funding to expand their services for Indigenous communities. It will also support the training of over 700 frontline workers and around 90 full-time jobs.

Written by Greg Higgins