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Gilbert Centre gets $666K boost from feds to expand services

'The Gilbert Centre is doing more than saving lives. I really feel that the centre is making lives a lot better,' says MP
From left are Gilbert Centre executive director Dale Boyle, family and youth program supervisor Jason Staats, Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MP Leah Taylor Roy, and Emery, a past program participant, now a Gilbert staff member.

A huge funding boost for a Barrie-based organization that assists with people's mental health from 2SLGBTQIA+ communities was announced Friday by the federal government.

Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MP Leah Taylor Roy was in town to announce more than $666,000 in funding to the Gilbert Centre for Social and Support Services to help with the mental health needs of specified groups.

The project will build upon Gilbert Centre’s existing QT (Queer, Trans) Youth Connection Discord program, a drop-in community space for queer, transgender and questioning youth aged 12 to 29 years old in Simcoe County. 

Gilbert Centre executive director Dale Boyle said the funding has allowed the facility to build upon its program, with resources meeting the needs of youth using support services.

“The grant funds received from the public health agency of Canada has allowed the program to expand its resources and personnel to better meet the needs for youth so that we can reach more kids within our region,” Boyle said. 

Roy also spoke at the funding announcement, which took place at the Gilbert Centre on Bradford Street, and said she was honoured to be speaking at a place she respects so highly.

”I’m really impressed with the range of services, with the approach that the centre takes, the openness and inclusivity,” Roy said. “The Gilbert Centre is doing more than saving lives. 

"I really feel that the centre is making lives a lot better. It's not just survive, but also thrive. I really get that sense here," the MP added. 

The funding is actually part of the 2021 federal budget and is money that was set aside for those most affected by COVID-19. 

Its aim is to reduce social isolation and related mental health impacts caused by the pandemic by providing youth with access to supportive spaces and activities to build resilience, as well as social support staff, peer support and outreach workers, through a virtual space. 

The project will also help to educate community partners, such as the Simcoe County District School Board and Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School, as well as other partners, by offering introductory sessions on how to best support 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals.

Friday’s investment builds on the February announcement by the federal government of $198.6 billion over 10 years to improve health care services for Canadians, reduce surgical backlogs, support health workers, and improve integrated mental health and substance use services. 

For more information on the Gilbert Centre, head to the website by clicking here