North Bay Mayor’s report on poverty, mental health and addictions
NORTH BAY -- According to a newly-released report from North Bay Mayor Al McDonald, the city needs an additional $3 million from the province in order to help people struggling with mental health, addiction and poverty challenges.
The mayor brought together a number of community partners last September to discuss the concerns.
"It’s a dynamic report, so it’s going to continue to evolve," says McDonald.
On Wednesday morning, McDonald’s office released the 32-page Mayor's Roundtable Report, which finds the city needs a lot more money to tackle its issues.
McDonald says the first goal is to set up a transitional housing stabilization centre right away.
"All the services are provided under one roof. That is critical to the success of the challenges we face with mental health and addictions,” said McDonald.
The report shows over $2 million has already been realigned to the stabilization centre, with over $1.2 million coming from the North Bay Regional Health Centre’s addiction treatment centre being shifted to that new facility.
"If that stabilization centre does not happen or go ahead, then we’re going to see people on the streets again," said McDonald. "We’re going to see people continuing to overdose and die."
However, the report recommends an additional $2 million is still needed to ensure "robust" services, to fill "gaps" and to hire nurses, mental health care workers and police officers. As well, the report says another $1 million is needed to enhance services that provide 24-7 crisis support for families and youth.
Meanwhile, the pulling of funds from the hospital is drawing criticism from the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and NDP Health Critic France Gélinas.
Last week, they held a media conference in North Bay on their concerns about hospital cuts, saying there’s no evidence to support closing the 31 hospital-based addiction treatment beds.
Gélinas suggests that instead, the city needs to wait until the province actually announces mental health funding investment before pulling money from the hospital or that action may cost jobs.
"The easy part is to take money from the hospital. The hard part is to actually fund the services that people of North Bay need. Don’t put the cutting of money from your hospital and the services that work at the front," said Gélinas.
No location has been selected yet for the upcoming stabilization centre; however the report outlines a summer 2020 opening.