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The federal and Ontario governments are putting up $5-million each to establish 19 new mental wellness teams for First Nations communities.

The teams will be located across the province to ensure access by all of Ontario’s First Nations communities.

Federal Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott, Ontario Children and Youth Services Minister Michael Coteau and Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day are scheduled to attend a signing ceremony today in Toronto.

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A joint statement from all three issued late Wednesday said the initiative is meant to “bridge health inequities that persist between First Nations and other Ontario residents.”

Coteau called it a unique agreement to help provide important mental health and prevention services and supports for First Nations.

“This will help Indigenous children and youth receive mental health services as quickly and as close to home as possible,” he said.

Day said Ontario Chiefs welcome these new teams, which followed many moths of discussions, but added mental wellness is only a beginning.

“Canada can no longer remain on the sidelines as our young Peoples, some of whom are as young as 10 years old, commit suicide on an almost daily basis,” he said.

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