Oshawa’s Back Door Mission secures one-year provincial operating funding

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Published June 15, 2023 at 4:47 pm

The Back Door Mission in downtown Oshawa is still in business, thanks to a one-year financial commitment from the provincial government and a lot of advocacy work from local politicians, health care workers and the Mission United team to help make the funding happen.

Last spring Oshawa MPP Jennifer French (NDP) sounded the alarm for emergency funding to ensure that the work being done at Back Door Mission could continue after operating revenues at the downtown Oshawa acute care clinic was abruptly cut off. French raised the issue in the legislature and with a letter to the Doug Ford government and invited Mental Health and Addictions Minister Michael Tibollo to visit the facility.

Tibollo met with French and Back Door officials and the clinic was able to secure financing, but only until the fall, giving the clinic time to come up with a business case.

The clinic provides primary care to more than 600 people who face mental health challenges, addictions and chronic homelessness and in most cases, a combination of all three. Funding prior to last year had been haphazard and very much COVID-relief dependent. Without a more permanent funding source for “desperately needed” services at the mission it would be “nearly impossible” for many of those vulnerable citizens who use those services to survive, French said in her letter. “It is not hyperbole to say that lives are at stake.”

Thursday’s news of a one-year temporary funding reprieve – on Men’s Mental Health Awareness Day, no less – will allow the services provided by the organization to continue.

“Today’s announcement is incredibly significant and a step in the right direction,” said French. “Back Door Mission’s model of care through Mission United is exemplary and essential to building a healthy and caring community here in Oshawa. Organizations like this provide invaluable services and should never face funding uncertainty.”

French has continued to advocate for Back Door Mission’s work and said she was “grateful” that Tibollo accepted her invitation “to see the important and essential work being done on the frontlines” at the facility. “I am glad to see the things we can do for our communities by working together.”

One of the positive spin-offs from the Back Door Mission’s work is the number of hospital emergency room visits redirected to the clinic because of the on-the-spot medical service and treatment it provides.

“Especially during a pandemic where hospital capacity and resources are strained, appropriately redirecting individuals in crisis is the best option,” French said.

“While I am relieved to see this one-time funding commitment, we need to find ways to make sure services like these receive ongoing, reliable financial support,” she added. “I will continue to do the work to ensure building solutions that allow people to take the next step after receiving wrap-around services. We need to work towards permanent solutions that makes our neighbours and communities healthier.”

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