Government of Canada provides over $177M to CAMH for the implementation of a national three-digit number for suicide prevention and to bolster distress centres

News release

The 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline will be available across Canada on November 30, 2023

July 24, 2023 | Toronto, ON | Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada

Suicide is a serious public health issue that impacts people of all ages and backgrounds across the country. The Government of Canada is taking steps to ensure that everyone in Canada has access to suicide prevention resources and other crisis supports – whenever and wherever they need them.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced an investment of $156 million over three years to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) for the implementation and operation of the 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline, a national three-digit number for suicide prevention and emotional distress.

Minister Bennett also announced an additional investment of $21.4 million towards CAMH, which will help the organization bolster the capacity of distress centres that are part of the existing Talk Suicide Canada network, so as to better meet increased demand and prepare for 9-8-8 implementation. This funding was part of the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, which announced $50 million to support distress centres during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of November 30, 2023, the 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline will be available in English and French, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, to everyone in Canada. This easy to remember, three-digit number will make it simple for people to access the help they need, when they need it most. The 9-8-8 service will offer trauma-informed and culturally appropriate crisis services, and will be delivered by trained crisis responders using best practices, procedures and protocols. Implementation and delivery of the 9-8-8 service will continue to be informed by ongoing engagement with CAMH, provinces and territories, and organizations representing populations most affected by suicide.

While work is underway to implement the 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline, people in Canada continue to have access to Talk Suicide Canada, which offers bilingual crisis and suicide prevention support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Talk Suicide can be reached at 1-833-456-4566 by phone, and by text (in the evenings) at 45645. Residents of Quebec can call 1-866-277-3553, text 535353, or visit for support by online chat. People in Canada can also find support from their local distress centres.


"Every day, an average of 12 people die by suicide in Canada. Our hearts go out to all families, and loved ones who have been affected by suicide. We are taking action to support people across the country who are in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts. Today's investments take us one step closer to launching the 9-8-8 Suicide Crisis Helpline, which will provide an immediate, confidential, and judgement-free suicide prevention support for Canadians in need – when they need it most."

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

"Suicide is a public health issue that affects people of all ages and backgrounds across the country and too often, the stigma around mental health prevents the people who need help from seeking it. I am grateful that 9-8-8 is being introduced so people in Canada can get judgement-free suicide prevention help."

Élisabeth Brière
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

"CAMH is honoured to be leading and coordinating the rollout of 9-8-8 in Canada. This three-digit service will provide life-saving support to people who are facing their most challenging moments. We're proud to be working closely with partners across the country to bring this important service to everyone in Canada"

Sarah Downey
CAMH President and CEO

"CAMH is working closely with key partners from across many different sectors and interest groups to bring 9-8-8 to Canada. We know that communities across the country are engaged in suicide prevention efforts that recognize their unique strengths and needs. Working with partners, we are building on these community-based efforts to ensure that all people living in Canada are able to access high-quality, evidenced based, equitable crisis supports when they need them."

Dr. Allison Crawford
Psychiatrist and Clinician Scientist at CAMH and Chief Medical Officer, 9-8-8 and Talk Suicide Canada

"Kids Help Phone has been on the virtual frontlines for youth and mental health for more than 34 years, we hear from young people every single day and night – with more than 15M interactions since the beginning of the pandemic alone. With suicide being the second leading cause of death for youth, and 22 per cent of all KHP frontline work – the 9-8-8 service could not be more important. KHP is unwavering in its support of 9-8-8 and strongly stand with the Government of Canada, the Provinces and Territories, CAMH and the 9-8-8 partners as we launch this essential life-saving service. Together, we will work to ensure that no one is alone, no matter where they are or when they need help."

Katherine Hay
President and CEO, Kids Help Phone

Quick facts

  • In August 2022, the Government of Canada welcomed the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's (CRTC) decision to adopt 9-8-8 as the three-digit number to dial or text to access suicide prevention and crisis support. As highlighted in the CRTC's determinations, telecommunications companies will activate 9-8-8 by November 30, 2023.
  • To prepare for the launch of 9-8-8, the Government of Canada announced in August 2022 that the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) will lead the coordination of 9-8-8 service delivery, building on its experience delivering Talk Suicide Canada.
  • Throughout summer 2023, CAMH plans to onboard over 40 organizations across Canada to the 9-8-8 network, including Kids Help Phone.
  • CAMH is the largest mental health teaching hospital in Canada and one of the world's leading research centres in its field. CAMH's role in leading the development of 9-8-8 service delivery in Canada builds on their experience delivering Talk Suicide Canada.
  • If an individual is interested in becoming a responder, they can visit the Talk Suicide Canada website at Volunteer with Talk Suicide Canada or Work with Talk Suicide Canada.

Associated links


Zachary Caldwell
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

Public inquiries


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