Ottawa police looking to match success of Toronto mental health pilot project

Ottawa police are pledging tochange the way they respond to mental health calls as critics condemn a $15-million increase to the city's policing budget.

Council approved the $402.1-million budget on Wednesday, with police saying the new money will go toward hiring 25 officers, creating a body-camera project and making strategies for future protests.

But response to mental health calls is top of mind for some city councillors who say there needs to be a way to direct 911 crisis calls to better-trained officers and crisis support workers.

The chief of Ottawa police says they are looking at the success of a mental health pilot project in Toronto and already beginning to revamp the dispatch centre to better accommodate people in crisis.

Eric Stubbs says he is fully on board with bettering the Ottawa police's response to mental health calls and says they are already training dispatch officers.

The city's general manager of community and social services says her team is in the midst of finding ways to redirect 911 calls to more appropriate emergency services.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2023.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press