Ontario to spend $8M to staff OPP mental health call program

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Ontario will spend $8.4 million over three years on a provincial police program that aims to improve responses to mental health-related calls.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones shared the details of the program on Tuesday, after the funding was announced in this year's provincial budget.

The Crisis Call Diversion Program will be staffed by mental health and addictions crisis workers at Ontario Provincial Police communications centres.

The government says workers assigned to the calls can refer people to mental health supports and help them navigate the system.

Crisis workers will also be able to help de-escalate situations when a police officer has been assigned to the call.

The program has been piloted at OPP communications centres in London, Ont., and Thunder Bay, Ont., and the province says more locations will be added this year.

The province says crisis workers were engaged in 478 calls between November of last year and June 6. It says 16 per cent of the calls were diverted from frontline police officer response.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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