WINNIPEG -- The province has announced nearly $5 million in funding will be used to improve access to mental health and addictions treatment for at-risk or sexually exploited youth.

On Tuesday, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced an investment of $4.9 million to be divvied up among a number of programs for youth, including Indigenous-led supports, over three years.

Of this money, the province said $751,000 will go to the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre to work in collaboration with StreetReach over three years.

Another $370,000 will be used to support new partnerships with Indigenous organizations. The province said these partnerships will use traditional Indigenous approaches when addressing social issues.

Three-point-eight million from this investment will go towards expanding the Neecheewam Inc. Winnipeg facility and improve access to Indigenous-led healing, care and treatment services for sexually exploited youth. 

“This is a way of reaching out to further involve the community in this initiative as well,” Stefanson said on Tuesday. “I think it’s very important to have Neecheewam even more involved in the process moving forward.”

The province said currently, Neecheewam runs the Strong Hearted Buffalo Women Crisis Stabilization Unit, which has four beds for girls and transgendered youth who are at high risk of sexual exploitation. The new funding will pay for four new beds to be added to the facility, the province said.