Northeastern Ontario groups share pre-budget consultation ideas

Ontario’s 2018 budget is still months away from being unveiled, but pre-budget consultations are well underway.
Josh Tillson, who has struggled with depression, says the province should invest more money in mental health. (Benjamin Aubé/CBC)
In front of a panel of high-ranking politicians, Sudbury teenager Josh Tilson detailed his struggle to find someone to talk about about his depression. It's a struggle which led him to try to take his own life in 2016. He's now a spokesperson for Sudbury's Child and Family Centre. He shared his story with the CBC's Benjamin Aubé. 5:08

Ontario's 2018 budget is still months away from being unveiled, but pre-budget consultations are well underway.

The province's Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs was in Greater Sudbury on Tuesday.

About a dozen MPPs from across the province were in the city to hear suggestions.

They heard from Josh Tillson, a 17-year-old Sudbury teen who tried to take his own life almost two years ago as he struggled with depression.

"I didn't see any other option besides suicide," he said.

Pre-budget consultations were held in Sudbury on Tuesday. (Benjamin Aubé/CBC)

"We need more funding for mental health services here in Sudbury and all of Ontario."

Tillson was part of a delegation from Sudbury's Child and Family Centre. The government-funded centre is seeking a 30 per cent funding increase of about $2.2 million.

"When a youth checks themself into the hospital in a crisis situation, there's a lot of things the hospital has to go through and money that has to go to support that youth in crisis," Tillson said.

"But if we can just focus on prevention and promotion of mental wellness from the beginning, we can prevent that crisis situation."

Repeat items

A representative from the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities also spoke as did timber industry requesting $75 million in funding for the Forest Access Roads Program.

Small businesses struggling with the increased minimum wage were on the docket too.

The Progressive Conservative MPP for Nipissing and the party's finance critic, Vic Fedeli, says he believes the presentations were an indictment on the ruling Liberals.

"They're focusing on issues that have been brought to these committees year after year," he said.

The current Liberal government will unveil its fourth budget in the coming months.

With files from Benjamin Aubé