Government of Canada invests in mental health and distress centres


April 2022

Supporting the mental health and well-being of people in Canada, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a priority for the Government of Canada.

In the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $50 million to bolster the capacity of distress centres in addressing pressures and service demands related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding supports a range of distress lines across the country to ensure their continuation as a core health service during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 11, 2021, the Government of Canada announced that 57 distress centres across Canada would receive funding through the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) as part of the first solicitation. The funding announced today is from a second solicitation of PHAC funding supporting 13 distress centres for a total investment of $1,775,000.

This funding will provide distress centres across Canada with the support they need to meet increased demand for crisis services, including the following activities:

  • Hiring of new staff, including support for recruitment, onboarding and training, as well as increases to staff time;
  • Managing increased demand for service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, including supporting changes to service delivery (e.g., tools that support the shift to virtual operations and office-related costs for infection control/COVID-19 prevention);
  • New or adapted resources for responders; and,
  • Knowledge exchange—meetings, communities of practice to share lessons learned.

Distress Centre Project overviews

  • The John Howard Society of Fredericton is receiving $250,000 and supports the New Brunswick provincial crisis line (Chimo helpline), PEI's provincial helpline (Island helpline), as well as crisis services in the Gaspé Peninsula and Magdalen Islands (QC), and St. Mary's First Nation (New Brunswick).
  • The Crisis Intervention and Public Information Society of Greater Victoria, in B.C., is receiving $150,000 to provide crisis services to youth across Canada through NEED2, including the online chat and text service
  • The Chimo Personal Distress Intervention Service is receiving $150,000, and its crisis line provides crisis support to seniors, newcomers, racialized peoples, women and children who have experienced domestic violence/abuse, and people who are homeless or at risk for homelessness in the Richmond, B.C. area.
  • The Camrose Open Door Association is receiving $75,000. Its crisis line provides support to vulnerable youth, adults and their families in rural communities throughout east central Alberta.
  • The Prince Albert Mobile Crisis Unit Cooperative is receiving $150,000. Its crisis line provides crisis services in Prince Albert and other northern Saskatchewan communities.
  • The Sir Hugh John Macdonald Memorial Hostel is receiving $150,000 for its crisis line for Indigenous children and youth in Manitoba.
  • The Boots on the Ground Peer Support for First Responders will receive $75,000, with its crisis line providing 24/7 crisis support to first responders across Ontario.
  • The Assaulted Women's Helpline is receiving $250,000. The organization operates two crisis lines: one for women who are experiencing domestic and gender-based violence, and the Seniors Safety Line, which is specifically for seniors who are experiencing all type of abuse, neglect, or who are coping with mental health issues and isolation.
  • The Social Service Bureau of Sarnia-Lambton's Family Counselling Centre is receiving $75,000. It operates a crisis line for the people living in the Southwestern Ontario area.
  • The Telecare Distress Centre of Peterborough is receiving $150,000. It operates a 24-hour crisis call line serving central and central-east Ontario.
  • The For You Telecare Family Service is receiving $75,000 and supports a crisis service for Korean-Canadian children, youth, parents, seniors, single parents, and families across Canada.
  • The Persian Mom's Organization is receiving $75,000. Its crisis line supports newcomers and refugees, women, youth and official language minority communities across Ontario.
  • The South Asian Canadians Health and Social Services is receiving $150,000 with the organization operating a crisis line supporting the South Asian community in Ontario.

Also as part of this investment, $2 million will flow over two years to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), which is working with partners to provide distress centres across Canada with curated resources to assist in meeting the diverse needs of priority populations during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The project "Coping for All: Empowering Distress Centres to Support Public Mental Health in Canada in COVID-19 and Beyond" will involve the development of an environmental scan and needs analysis on the various populations that crisis lines are intended to support. This includes determining the learning needs and preferences of distress centres; collating safe and culturally-appropriate resources, including training and guidance; and collaborating with relevant experts and organizations for mobilizing and implementing resources in the distress centre community.

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