Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath visits in North Bay

With a provincial election is less than a year away, campaign-style visits are already underway in Ontario.

Ontario’s NDP leader Andrea Horwath is touring the northeast this week, and visited North Bay on Tuesday to address mental health and addiction problems in the city.

Horwath told CTV News a NDP government will invest in new treatment facilities and overdose prevention sites.

She said the Ford government has put a cap on the amount of money it spends on these locally arranged treatment facilities and overdose prevention sites.

“When communities are looking to put together a treatment centre, they should be getting all kinds of support from the provincial government,” said Horwath. “People have suffered and lost their lives.”

“We need to not only get rid of the cap, but make sure we’re making the investments necessary to support communities in the development of treatment and prevention sites.”

The New Democrats say the Ford government has cut more than $300 million in funding support for mental health and addictions.

But Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli, a Tory cabinet minister, had a different take.

“It’s disappointing that Andrea Horwath and the NDP chose to vote against our government’s $3.8 billion investment over 10 years to expand mental health and addictions services,” Fedeli said.

He also added that $40 million would go specifically to mental health and addiction challenges in the north.

Horwath disagrees.

“The reality is we’re still going to see people dying of overdoses in this community,” she said.

“I don’t understand why the Ford government is turning its back on people that have addictions and mental health illnesses.”

In the last year, close to 30 treatment beds in the northeast have been closed, and some people in the region are now waiting more than a year to get into a program.

“The three-month wait time turned into a six-month wait time,” said recovering addict Nikki Mattinas. "Then, I actually had to redo my gains, which is a process you take through an addictions councillor in order to get into treatment.

"I had to redo this twice, which made the process a lot longer … Just staying clean, day by day, was difficult.”

Horwath said the addiction and mental health crisis in North Bay is a problem across a lot of the north, adding she will be visiting Sudbury and Sault St. Marie this week.