Invitation to register: Supporting distress centres during the COVID-19 pandemic

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.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is administering this funding opportunity through a two-step process. The first step is for organizations to register their interest in applying to receive funds.

Note, this registration process will also allow PHAC to create an inventory of distress centres which may be used for future communications and networking purposes.

Eligible registrants will then be invited by PHAC to the second step, which is to apply for funding at a pre-determined level, based on the size of the organization, volume of interactions (phone, text and/or chat), anticipated level of need and eligible activities.

An initial round of funding will be issued in Spring 2021, to be used over a period of 18 months. Should funds remain available, a second funding opportunity will be launched later in 2021. This second opportunity may support other activities, additional needs, or new funding applicants.

Section 1 - Overview

The health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are causing elevated levels of stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness for many people. There is an urgent need to enhance crisis services and supports to address needs arising during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These impacts are resulting in a significant increase in call volume to local, regional and national distress centres across Canada. At the same time, many distress centres are seeing a decline in donations and volunteer capacity related to COVID-19 challenges.

Section 2 - Objective and Eligible Activities

Through this funding opportunity, PHAC aims to support the capacity and viability of eligible distress centres as they respond to pressures and increased service demands resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the purpose of this funding opportunity, a distress centre is an organization that provides a dedicated service focussed on the provision of immediate crisis services by phone, text and/or chat to the general public or specific priority populations, with a focus on mental health. (Please see Section 3 for more information on eligible organizations).

Funds can be used to support:

The following expenses are not eligible for funding under this investment:

Section 3 - Who can apply/Eligibility

To be eligible for funding, an organization must meet the following criteria:

The following types of organizations are not eligible for funding through this investment:

Section 4 - Funding amount and duration

Initial funds will be issued through grants in spring 2021, to be used over a period of up to 18 months. The grant level will be established through a formula, determined based on the number and size of eligible registrants. Three tiers of grants will be established, for small, medium and large distress centres, with the highest tier not exceeding $250,000.

Section 5 - Application process

The process to apply for funds involves two steps. The first step is for interested and eligible distress centres to register their interest in receiving funds by completing and submitting a Registration Form. PHAC will use this information to help determine eligibility and inform funding decisions. This will also allow PHAC to create an inventory of distress centres that can be used for future communications.

Registration must be submitted by 11:59 pm EST on February 8, 2021 using PHAC's Supporting Distress Centres During COVID-19 Registration Form. To obtain a copy of the Registration Form, please contact: with the subject line "Registration Form".

Following review of registration forms, PHAC will initiate step two and invite eligible registrants to apply for grants to support eligible expenses. At this stage, organizations will complete an "Application for Funding Template" provided by PHAC. Following review of applications, it is anticipated that PHAC will issue grants to approved applicants in Spring 2021.

In the province of Quebec, some eligible organizations may have to comply with the applicable provisions of the Act Respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif (Act M-30) before an agreement for a selected project can be signed with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). For more information about Act M-30 and to determine if your organization must comply with its applicable provisions, please consult the web site of the Secrétariat du Québec aux relations canadiennes (SQRC):

Should your project be selected for funding, PHAC will send the Grant Letter and related documents to the Quebec government department responsible for the application of Act M-30.

Section 6: Contact us

To obtain additional information about this funding opportunity, please contact:

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: