ALEXANDRA HILKENE, Minister Elliott’s Office
The Ontario government is investing an additional $5.8 million to expand specialized pediatric mental health and eating disorders services at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). The expansion of outpatient programs will help to protect our progress by addressing the increased demand for mental health supports during the pandemic and is part of the government’s plan to build a modern, connected mental health and addictions system to serve Ontarians of all ages.
“Our government is committed to supporting the mental health and well-being of Ontario’s children and youth, and we will continue to make investments like this that build capacity and improve access to mental health and addictions services,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This funding will support the world-class team at SickKids in providing specialized services to vulnerable children and youth that could save lives.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially challenging for children and youth across the province. In the last year, SickKids’ inpatient Psychiatry and Adolescent Medicine unit has regularly operated at or over full capacity. The hospital has experienced a 35 percent annual increase in admissions for its eating disorders program. This funding will enable SickKids to provide approximately 40,000 additional clinical hours and help SickKids work towards their target wait time of one month for outpatient mental health services, so more patients can receive the care they need earlier and before needing to be admitted to the hospital.
“Since the release of Roadmap to Wellness, our government’s top priority has been to make the critical investments necessary to fill urgent gaps in mental health and addictions care, reduce waiting lists and address extensive wait times across the province,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Through the expansion of SickKids’ mental health and eating disorder services, our government is delivering on our commitment to build a treatment network that will support children, youth, families, and communities across Ontario.”
This new funding is part of $19 million in additional operating funding that SickKids will receive starting in 2021-22, which represents an increase of 3.8 percent over the previous year. This is the third straight year that the Ontario government has increased the hospital’s operating funding to ensure they can continue to provide high-quality health care for children and youth.
“Increasing access to mental health and eating disorders services for children and youth has never been so urgent. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the rising rates of pediatric mental health concerns and particularly eating disorders,” says Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO, SickKids. “Thanks to this increased investment in the mental health and well-being of our children and youth, we can help put young people on healthy trajectories today to bring better futures.”