Ontario Expanding Substance Abuse Program for African and Caribbean Canadian Youth

In Provincial

Protecting our Progress by Increasing Access to Culturally Appropriate Mental Health and Addictions Services Across the Province

The Ontario government is investing $2.9 million to enhance and expand the Substance Abuse Program for African and Caribbean Canadian Youth (SAPACCY) at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and seven new satellite locations across Ontario, as part of the government’s commitment to invest $3.8 billion over 10 years to implement Roadmap to Wellness.

The expanded program will protect our progress by improving access to culturally appropriate mental health and addictions care for African and Caribbean Canadian youth who are dealing with problem substance use and mental health concerns, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Through Roadmap to Wellness, our government is delivering on our commitment to ensure all Ontarians have access to high-quality, easily accessible mental health and addictions support,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Investing in programs such as the Substance Abuse Program for African and Caribbean Canadian Youth is one more way our government is continuing to expand and enhance culturally appropriate mental health and addictions services that are centred around the needs of individuals and their families.”

SAPACCY provides a wide range of culturally safe services and supports to African and Caribbean-origin youth, offering assessment, individual and group treatment, and counselling to assist youth in reducing harm and making the best choices for themselves and their families on the path to recovery. The program has been shown to improve health outcomes for youth, reduce stigma and barriers to care and increase early intervention and timely access to culturally safe services. The program serves Francophones, LGBTQQ2SI+, disconnected youth, and youth impacted by significant trauma including community violence.

This funding will help to enhance current program levels and expand services through the creation of new community satellite locations in Hamilton, Ottawa and Windsor. Additional satellite locations previously announced are in Etobicoke, Peel, Scarborough, and North York. It will also support the recruitment of counselors, therapists, case managers, outreach workers, and site coordinators, as appropriate.

“In a year unlike any other, we’ve seen an increased demand for high-quality mental health and addictions care that addresses the unique needs of Ontario’s most vulnerable youth,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This investment will help protect our progress in the fight against COVID-19 by ensuring SAPACCY clients have better access to culturally appropriate and safe services, in a setting where they are fully supported in their journey towards recovery.”

Our government is committed to supporting all Ontarians on their journey to wellness by investing in services across the continuum of care, from prevention to recovery, to make it easier for people to find and access support when and where they need it. This includes expanding services for children and youth, justice-related services, mobile crisis teams, supportive housing and programs supporting at-risk populations.

Quick Facts

  • Under Roadmap to Wellness, Ontario has announced an increase of $525 million in annualized funding for mental health and addictions support since 2019-20. This includes $175 million for more mental health and addictions services and supports in 2021-2022 committed through the 2021 Budget, $176 million invested in October 2020 and new funding of $174 million invested in 2019-20.
  • In 2020-2021, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the province has invested up to $194 million in one-time emergency funding for mental health and addictions services, including virtual supports which have been accessed by more than 111,000 Ontarians.
  • Ontario is also investing up to $23.6 million to support internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which has been accessed by over 68,900 Ontarians since the province launched this program during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Ontario government is investing $2.5 million in Breaking Free Online, an innovative therapy tool that makes it faster and easier for Ontarians to access safe and effective addictions supports. Ontarians can register at www.breakingfreeonline.ca and have free access to programming and resources for two years. Mental health and addictions service providers, such as counselors and therapists, can also register their patients for this service to complement their addiction treatment program.
  • Visit COVID-19: Support for People to find information about the many available, confidential and free mental health and addictions services and supports for Ontarians of all ages.


“This significant investment is critical in expanding the provision of culturally appropriate support systems and services geared towards promoting the wellbeing of African and Caribbean youth within the designated regions in Ontario. On behalf of all the partner organizations, TAIBU would like to acknowledge the support by the Ontario government in addressing the differential impact on the health and wellbeing experienced by Black youth in the province.”

– Liben Gebremikael
Executive Director, TAIBU Community Health Centre

“Black populations see better mental health as one of the most important issues in their communities. Getting access to care has long been a problem. This funding will allow CAMH to work alongside trusted community organizations to develop a network of culturally appropriate mental health services for Black youth. This is a first for Ontario and a first for Canada.”

– Dr. Kwame McKenzie
Director of Health Equity, CAMH

“I know firsthand what TAIBU means to Scarborough. TAIBU cannot be replaced. As a former social worker, I can honestly say that this investment will continue to bring our community closer and this new money will provide mental health and addictions care to the young people who need the help the most, especially with all the challenging times that we are still experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

– Hon. Raymond Cho
Minister for Seniors and Accessibility & MPP, Scarborough North

“Scarborough has been hard hit by the pandemic. I am pleased to see the Substance Abuse Program for African and Caribbean Canadian Youth program receive $2.9 million to enhance and support the expansion of services through the creation of new community satellite locations. Funding like this will help provide Scarborough residents and Ontarians across the province with culturally appropriate mental health and addictions care for African and Caribbean Canadian youth who are dealing with problem substance use and mental health concerns.”

– Vijay Thanigasalam
MPP, Scarborough-Rouge Park

“This investment will expand access to quality mental health and addictions services that meet the diverse needs of all Ontarians. Supporting culturally responsive programs like SAPACCY are essential in addressing urgent gaps and overcoming barriers in mental health and addictions care.”

– Hon. Parm Gill
Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism

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Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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