The 2019 Ontario budget was announced today and contained both encouraging investments as well as reason for concern for vulnerable children, youth, and families.
The government announced there will be investments of $174 million in 2019–20, focused on supporting community mental health and addictions services, mental health and justice services, supportive housing, and acute mental health inpatient beds, with services targeting what government has identified as “priority populations”, such as Indigenous peoples and Francophones.
“Many of the families served by Children’s Aid Societies face challenges associated with mental health or addiction issues,” said Nicole Bonnie, CEO of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS). “Children’s Aid Societies need adequate investment to respond to the complex needs of children, youth, and families, as most of our work supports children and youth to remain at home with their families.”
“We are very pleased that the government plans to invest in services that will benefit these vulnerable families. Families are strengthened when they have access to well-resourced mental health services, which in turn helps them stay together, and that’s always the goal of Children’s Aid Societies,” Ms. Bonnie added.
The budget also included an announcement of the government’s intention to decrease the Children’s and Social Services sector budget from $17.0 billion in 2018–19 to $16.0 billion 2021–22. This represents an average annual decrease of 2.1 percent over the period. The budget did not outline on how this decrease will impact child welfare specifically or individual Children’s Aid Societies’ funding.
“The decrease gives all those who work with vulnerable children and families pause,” said Ms. Bonnie. “We will be carefully analyzing its implications as more details are made available in the coming weeks. We know how vital well funded social services are to vulnerable populations.”
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