Ontario Investing $1.7 Million to Support Mental Health of Workers in Northern Ontario
TORONTO – The Ontario government is working for workers by investing $1.7 million to support Workplace Safety North (WSN) in developing and delivering mental health training and resources for mining and forestry workers in Northern Ontario. This funding follows nearly $8 million the province invested to bolster WSN’s Ontario Mine Rescue program, which coordinated the successful rescue of all 39 miners stuck underground in Sudbury this past September.
“Our miners and forestry workers operate in challenging environments day-in and day-out to deliver materials that communities across Ontario rely on,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “While these jobs provide rewarding, meaningful careers, we need to acknowledge the mental toll they can take. That is why our government has invested in a comprehensive mental health program with a full suite of supports. Every worker, no matter the profession, needs to know that help is always a phone call away.”
Unfortunately, research shows mining and forestry workers are at higher risk of experiencing anxiety, stress, and depression. To address this, Workplace Safety North has developed a three-year program that will deliver in-person and online training for mining and forestry operations and improve mental health outcomes for workers in the industry. As part of the project, workers and employers will have 24/7 support, including an online portal with mental health tools and free resources and awareness sessions for small businesses.
“Based on the effects of the pandemic on mental health in the workplace and at home, workplace mental health needs to be at the forefront of Ontario workplace safety,” said Paul Andre, President and CEO of Workplace Safety North (WSN). “That is why WSN has a team of accredited Psychological Health and Safety Advisors available to consult with clients and help create psychologically safe and healthy workplaces. This funding will help us expand critical resources and support to workers who need it most.”
These services will help reduce the stigma associated with mental health challenges so that workers can ask for support when they need it. This is especially important in the mining and forestry sectors, where mental health and psychological concerns can be left unaddressed.
“Our government stands shoulder to shoulder with mining and forestry workers across the north,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry. “We know these critical workers face unique challenges, including long hours and irregular work schedules. That is exactly why it is so important for our government to make mental health supports more accessible, so these workers can get the help they need 24 hours a day.”
Funding for this project was approved by Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer in November 2021.
- As an independent not-for-profit, Workplace Safety North is one of four sector-based health and safety associations in Ontario. They provide specialized occupational health and safety services such as health and safety certification programs and on-site audits to mining and forestry workplaces in remote areas of the province.
- Since 2012, Ontario has provided Workplace Safety North with over $116 million in funding to support their programs and services.
- There are currently 23,900 full-time workers in the Ontario mining sector and 57,400 full-time workers in the Ontario forestry, paper, and printing sector.
- Last year, workplace mental health resources were in the top ten health and safety resources accessed on workplacesafetynorth.ca.