A collective of mental health and addictions agencies will pick up where the Mayor’s Roundtable has left off.

With the roundtable report finalized, work to advance mental health and addictions services in North Bay, including implementation of the report, will be overseen by an existing mental health and addictions table.

The final report from the Mayor’s Roundtable on Mental Health and Addictions is linked here and is available on the City of North Bay’s website.

Hosted by Mayor Al McDonald in September 2019, the roundtable generated the report, which includes recommendations aimed at strengthening housing, mental health and addictions services for people living in North Bay.

It was developed by an Action Team, which worked with partners in the community on priorities set out during the session.

The Action Team includes representatives from the following organizations:

  • AIDS Committee of North Bay & Area, City of North Bay
  • Community Counselling Centre of Nipissing, Crisis Centre
  • District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board
  • HANDS – the Family Network
  • Nipissing Mental Health and Housing Support Services
  • North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
  • North Bay Police Service
  • North Bay Recovery Home
  • North Bay Regional Health Centre
  • Ontario Health North
  • People for Equal Partnership

Although the Action Team is not a decision-making body, officials say its recommendations have been embraced by the various partners, which are now working toward implementation.

Presented to Ontario’s Minister of Health in January, the report has continued to evolve as the partners work to finalize operational details. This final report reflects the latest developments since that time, including revised funding targets and timelines for some areas.

Earlier this month, Natalie Mehra of the Ontario Health Coalition was joined by Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE) President Michael Hurley and France Gélinas, the opposition NDP’s health critic at a press conference in North Bay.

The announced closure of 31 hospital-based addiction beds at North Bay Regional Health Centre — and the jobs associated with them — had drawn their attention.

“We do not support this format of program changes. The evidence shows there are real gaps in the hospital, said Mehra. “They need an amelioration of services, an improvement, not a cut to services. There are gaps in the community, they need an amelioration, not a cut to services.”

Following an announcement confirming the North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) will be the operator of community withdrawal management services (WMS) and safe beds at a central location in North Bay, McDonald observed,  “I am proud of these organizations and individuals that agreed to come together to serve our community. The local leaders are caring professionals and know our community. Change is never easy.”

NBRHC Communications Manager Kim McElroy advised NBRHC was “pleased to share with staff that we have cancelled all of our layoffs linked to the earlier transfer of funds.”

McDonald recently categorized the developments as, “Good news for our community. Mary Davis and the 29 community organizations and professionals at the Mayor’s roundtable delivered a comprehensive dynamic report and concrete recommendations to move forward to assisting our community and individuals with mental health and addictions.”

NBRHC will start the planning and development of the following features and services to be offered at the 120 King Street West facility:

  • six safe beds
  • eight community WMS beds
  • two transition beds
  • A telephone crisis line for addictions and mental health
  • Mobile WMS services
  • Addictions day/evening treatment program

“A great deal of credit needs to be given to Mayor Al McDonald for mobilizing health and social service providers in our community with the creation of his Mayor’s Roundtable on Housing, Mental Health and Addictions,” said Paul Heinrich, President & CEO, North Bay Regional Health Centre. “Collectively we’ve raised awareness about the issues facing our city and created a platform for how we can strengthen mental health and addiction services for people living here.”