Ontario budget 2023 and the Manitoulin Island beat

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The Expositor’s Local Journalism Initiative Reporter covers three beats: the environment, mental health and addictions and the courts, including crime and justice related matters. The following is items from the Ontario budget that pertain to the aforementioned topics.

by Maureen Strickland, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

ONTARIO—On March 23 Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlanfalvy unveiled the 2023 Ontario Budget. At a whopping $204 billion this is the biggest budget ever in the province of Ontario.

Four budget items pop out of the 207-page document that could have an impact on the environment, mental health and addictions and crime and justice on Manitoulin Island.

Over the next three years $9.5 million is committed to developing and implementing Ontario’s Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy. The money will be used to improve soil data mapping and soil evaluation and monitoring which helps farmers make decisions.

Building on the Roadmap to Wellness: A Plan to Build Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions System, an additional $425 million will be spent over three years to continue to provide community-based and led mental health and addiction supports. This includes providing community-based mental health and addictions service providers, funded by the Ministry of Health, with a five percent increase in base funding.

The government is providing $2.5 million in 2023-24 to continue supporting the Youth Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention Program and the Victim Quick Response Program+. These programs support community-based prevention initiatives as well as provide direct supports for survivors of human trafficking.

Ontario is investing $13.4 million in 2023-24 to fight gun-and gang-related crime. Criminal offences like drug trafficking, assaults with weapons, murders and human trafficking can be linked to gang membership in both rural and urban areas.

Maureen Strickland, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Manitoulin Expositor