Sudbury

Health Canada announces more mental health workers for Attawapiskat

Health Canada says it will fund two additional mental health workers and a case manager for youth in Attawapiskat to assist with the northern Ontario reserve's suicide crisis.

When those workers will be on the ground and what level of training will be required is still unknown, however

Teen boys throw rocks in the northern Ontario reserve of Attawapiskat, Ont. The provincial government has deployed an emergency medical assistance team and committed $2 million towards Attawapiskat last month for a period of 30 days, to help with the ongoing suicide crisis in the remote James Bay community. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Health Canada says it will fund two additional mental health workers and a case manager for youth in Attawapiskat to assist with the northern Ontario reserve's suicide crisis.

The move comes after the federal government came under fire by the region's MP and the community's chief.

The department has yet to indicate when the workers will be on the ground in the troubled community and what level of training will be required.

NDP MP Charlie Angus cancelled a high-profile trip to the United Nations this week to visit the beleaguered reserve instead, and highlight the lack of federal support for youth.

Angus says he was baffled by the fact the Liberal government didn't seem to know the reserve's permanent mental health worker wasn't available to residents under 18.

Attawapiskat Chief Bruce Shisheesh, left, invited provincial ministers and the chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde to Attawapiskat last month. After the meeting with the chief, Health Minister Eric Hoskins, right, announced up to $2 million to fund four mental health workers. (CBC)

The department confirms there is an permanent mental health worker in the community from Weeneebayko Area Health Authority who focuses on adult services.

A youth wellness worker and intervention worker with a provincial agency — Payukotayno Child and Family Services — also work on the reserve.

Last month, the provincial government deployed an emergency medical assistance team and committed $2 million towards Attawapiskat for a period of 30 days. 

On Monday afternoon, Health Minister Eric Hoskins said he assured Attawapiskat Chief Bruce Shisheesh of the province's ongoing commitment to the community. 

Hoskins said emergency workers will be working with the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority staff to integrate the clinical care team and ensure they have the resources they need to care for the community.

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