There are few drugs 48-year-old Brantford resident Randy Roberts hasn’t abused at some point in his life and few stories as inspiring as his journey to overcoming his addictions.
“I grew up in Regent Park in Toronto,” Roberts said. “My mother was psychologically, emotionally and physically abusive.
“I became homeless and started injecting cocaine, speed and doing crack. I was in and out of jail for about five years for dealing it, to get it. When I went out west for a while, I used heroin and morphine.”
Roberts told the story of his decades-long struggle with addiction and mental health during an announcement of more than $15 million being invested by the Ontario government in the Hamilton-Niagara-Haldimand-Brant Local Health Integration Network.
The announcement was made on Thursday morning at St. Leonard’s Community Services on Fairview Drive.
About $12.5 million of the more than $15 million being invested in the local LHIN will help improve a range of health care services in Brantford and the County of Brant.
The Brant Community Healthcare System and St. Leonard’s Community Services will receive $500,000 to support a concurrent disorders outreach team. The team will focus on providing assistance to people struggling with opioid addictions through outreach to methadone programs.
Other funds will support a program for seniors with diabetes, seniors exercise support programs, supportive and transitional housing, palliative care and crisis management services.
The funding is aimed at providing more home care services to seniors, increasing access to community programs, increasing access to assisted living services and reducing emergency room wait times, among other initiatives.
Local providers of programs receiving funds include Participation House, the Canadian Mental Health Association, St. Leonard’s Community Services, the Brant Community Healthcare System, Six Nations Health Services, Feet First Haldimand, Ontario March of Dimes and Adult Recreation Therapy.
After struggling for years with life-threatening physical and mental illness, employment, financial instability and other problems, Roberts sought help. He became involved with St. Leonard’s Community Services in October 2011.
Roberts participated in individual counselling, attended a weekly support group and a relapse prevention group. He is approaching his one-year mark of being substance-free.
“I never felt lovable because of my experiences with women,” Roberts said. “My (ex-wife) was also abusive. My counsellor has been so supportive and caring.”
HNHB LHIN board member Helen Mulligan welcomed the provincial investment to help people suffering with addictions and mental health issues.
“We do recognize around the LHIN table that more funding needs to go into addictions and mental health treatment,” Mulligan said. “The LHIN has shifted its focus from the provider to the person.”
Jim Hornell, CEO of the Brant Community Healthcare System, said health care providers are responsible for delivering the best care possible.
“We are accountable to the people of this community,” Hornell said.
Bill Sanderson, executive director of St. Leonard’s Community Services, said the funding will help people most in need.
“This new funding will make it possible for some of our most vulnerable young women and men to successfully transition from the despair of abject homelessness into stable, supportive housing – while remaining employed or in school – to realize their full potential as our future community leaders,” Sanderson said.