In partnership with the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research (CRaNHR), the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy presented the findings on Oct. 28, 2018, from its collaborative research and regional engagement process towards the establishment of a Northern Centre of Excellence for Addiction and Mental Health.

“Northwestern Ontario presents unique geographic and cultural needs that make the prevention and treatment of substance use, as well as support for mental health, challenging,” said Cynthia Olsen, Coordinator – Thunder Bay Drug Strategy. “We see a disproportionately high rate of substance use in the region and a need for a localized approach to build capacity around the specific needs of the north.”

More than 200 people – from front line workers, to municipal and First Nation policy makers, and people living with addiction and mental health challenges, participated in the engagement process with 95 per cent in favour of a Northern Centre of Excellence.

“Such a centre could assist in building regional capacity to address system challenges such as worker recruitment and retention, access to care, and promote collaborative research, training and educational opportunities to share information and best practices in a manner that is both culturally- and contextually-relevant for northwestern Ontario,” said Dr. Mushquash, Director – Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research.

Throughout the region, participants were consulted in face-to-face meetings and virtually, via video and teleconference, with follow-up surveys sent to all. This comprehensive approach to engagement proved effective, and support emerged for the Northern Centre of Excellence to be offered as a blended model that combines in-person and virtual interactions.

With funding for the engagement process from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care approved in 2017, Thunder Bay Drug Strategy and CRaNHR completed its research and outreach this year.

Resources - Result documents are available upon request.

  • May 2018 Report on the Northwestern Ontario Engagement Process
  • Northwestern Ontario Engagement Results
  • Rainy River District Engagement Results
  • Kenora District Engagement Results
  • Northern District Engagement Results
  • Thunder Bay District Engagement Results
  • Thunder Bay City District Engagement Results

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