On May 27, 2019, the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (the "Minister") introduced Bill 116(PDF), the Foundations for Promoting and Protecting Mental Health and Addictions Services Act ("Bill 116"). Schedule 1 to Bill 116 is the Mental Health and Additions Centre of Excellence Act, 2019 (the "Act").
The Act, if enacted, is intended to give the Minister and Ontario Health, the province's new central health agency, oversight for mental health and addictions care within the integrated health care system introduced by the Connecting Care Act, 2019. The purpose of the Act is to lay a foundation to support a mental health and addictions strategy in Ontario. This bulletin provides a summary of the Act and its origins.
Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence
If passed, the Act would create the Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence (the "Centre") to act as a "central engine" for the delivery of mental health and addictions services in Ontario. The Centre would be within Ontario Health.
The proposed objects of the Centre according to Bill 116 and the Minister's announcement of the proposed legislation are, among others, to:
- establish a central point of accountability and oversight for mental health and addictions care in Ontario;
- standardize and monitor the quality and delivery of services and clinical care across the province to provide a better and more consistent patient experience;
- put into operation the province's mental health and addictions strategy; and
- develop clinical, quality and service standards for mental health and addictions.
Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions Recommendation
The proposal for the Centre follows one of the key recommendations made in 2010 by the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario (the "Committee"). In its final report(PDF), the Committee recommended the creation of a new organization, responsible to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, to ensure that "a single body is responsible for designing, managing, and coordinating the mental health and addictions system, and that programs and services are delivered consistently and comprehensively across Ontario." The Committee further recommended that all mental health and addictions programs and services, for all regions and ages, be consolidated in the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Each of Ontario's three main political parties were represented on the Committee, with the current Minister, the Honorable Minister Christine Elliott, then an MPP, serving as the Vice-Chair. The recommendations were made following 18 months of public consultation, conducted through site visits to mental health and addictions facilities, as well as through written and oral submissions.
The Centre will, if created, provide support and resources to health service providers, integrated care delivery systems (aka "Ontario Health Teams") and others related to mental health and addictions. The Minister will develop and maintain a new mental health and addictions strategy that recognizes that mental health and addictions care is a core component of an integrated health care system. Ontario Health will be expected to comply with any requirements provided for in regulations made by the Minister with respect to the Centre. The Act expands Ontario Health's objects in section 6 of the Connecting Care Act, 2019 to include: "(b.1) to support, through its Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence, the mental health and addictions strategy".
Under the Connecting Care Act, 2019, the Minister has the authority to order a transfer of the assets, liabilities, rights, obligations and all or some of the employees of Ontario's 14 Local Health Integration Networks and six other health organizations to Ontario Health, a health service provider or an Ontario Health Team. In Bill 116's current form, it appears that the Centre will be formed under the control of Ontario Health from the time of its establishment (rather than being a standalone organization).
Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, 2019
Included as Schedule 2 to Bill 116 is the Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, 2019. An overview of this proposed legislation and its context will be covered in an upcoming bulletin.
 You can read more about Ontario Health in our earlier bulletin, Ontario’s Proposed Super-Agency: The Creation of Ontario Health Under Bill 74 .