A new Ontario Provincial Police Crisis Call Diversion Program is being rolled out throughout Ontario, including locally.  

The program will help police offer the most appropriate response to calls from individuals experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis. It involves a professional mental health and addictions crisis worker embedded in each of the OPP Provincial Communications Centres. The crisis worker will be able to assist people in crisis work through the mental health system. The worker will also work with police officers to de-escalate situations when responding to a call. “The OPP hopes to begin development of the program at the North Bay and Orillia Communications Centres in 2021 and 2022, but the timeline is not set at this point,” says OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson.

The provincial government is investing $8.4 million over the next three years to help with the project.

The Crisis Call Diversion Pilot Program began in November 2020 at the OPP Provincial Communications Centre located in London, with support from Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Elgin-Middlesex and neighbouring CMHA Oxford. From November 2020 to June 6th, 2021, crisis workers were engaged in 478 calls. 

In May of 2021, the program was expanded to the OPP Provincial Communications Centre in Thunder Bay, with the support of CMHA Thunder Bay.

With files from Richard Coffin