Today, the City of Toronto’s Executive Committee, including its Chair, Mayor Olivia Chow, adopted a report to expand the Toronto Community Crisis Service (TCCS) city-wide by the end of 2024, and become the fourth municipal emergency service alongside Toronto Fire Services, Toronto Paramedic Services and the Toronto Police Service. The report will now be considered by Toronto City Council from November 8 to 10.
Following a successful first year of TCCS operations in 16 city wards, available in pilot areas covering 64 per cent of Toronto, the city-wide expansion strategy intends for all Torontonians to get support they need when they need it the most.
Launched in early 2022, the TCCS is a non-police-led alternative model of crisis response for Toronto residents. The 24/7 service provides a response that is community based, client centred and trauma informed, to support non-mental health crisis calls and wellness checks.
The report provided a progress update on data from the first year of service; achievements and challenges; and it outlined the national and international recognition TCCS has received as an innovative first-class model for community-based crisis response.
Key first-year TCCS program data includes:
• Successfully diverted 78 per cent of calls received from 911, with no police involvement.
• Crisis teams completed 2,936 post-crisis follow-ups with clients and connected approximately 40 per cent (1,160) of service users with ongoing case management supports.
• 95 per cent of clients were satisfied or very satisfied with the service they received when the TCCS responded.
• 90 per cent of clients indicated that the service positively impacted their perception of community safety and wellbeing.
Key first-year achievements include:
• Expanding low-barrier access through a partnership with Toronto Public Library to offer free drop-in service for onsite crisis support, referrals and connections to key support services.
• The launch of an Indigenous-specific mental health crisis line to support the unique needs of Indigenous community members.
• Joint training with Toronto Police Service officers and crisis workers so that they can work better together during crisis response situations, as well as awareness building and engagement with key first responders and front-line staff.
The report recommends community anchor partners in the expanded service areas including:
• The Gerstein Crisis Centre for Central Toronto and South Etobicoke
• The Canadian Mental Health Association of Toronto for North Etobicoke and North York
• TAIBU Community Health Centre for Scarborough
• 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations for Indigenous-specific city-wide service.
Each community anchor organization works closely with their own network of partners to ensure service coverage, coordination and consistency.
To support expansion, the report also includes an overview of additional investments through the Strengthening the Community Crisis System grant stream. Four projects would receive a total of $1 million in 2023 for initiatives that will strengthen and increase the capacity of the current community mental health and substance use crisis infrastructure across Toronto. The City will continue to engage with all levels of government for increased investment in supports of a robust mental health, addictions, housing and supportive-sector ecosystem so that TCCS can operate to its fullest potential.
The expansion of the Toronto Community Crisis Service is one of the first-year priority actions in the SafeTO: Toronto’s Ten-Year Community Safety and Well-Being Plan to reduce vulnerability in Toronto through proactive mental health support strategies and community-based crisis support models. More information about SafeTO can be found on the City’s Website.
The evaluation report was completed by a third-party evaluator, the Provincial System Support Program and Shkaabe Makwa with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. The evaluation provides program data, experiences and outcomes from the first 13 months of operation, from March 31, 2022, to April 30, 2023.
A summary of the key program data can be found through the City’s infographic.
The 2023 Update on the Toronto Community Crisis Service and Proposed Expansion Plan report is available online.
“Within its first year, the Toronto Community Crisis Service has successfully established itself as a trusted crisis response option for Torontonians. The service has strengthened confidence in community safety efforts and led to better outcomes for Indigenous, Black, racialized and 2SLGBTQ+ communities. We are pleased to be able to expand the Toronto Community Crisis Service as the fourth municipal emergency response service across Toronto so it can support more people and continue to contribute to community safety and the well-being of Torontonians.”
– Mayor Olivia Chow
“Since the TCCS launch in 2022, 2-Spirit has responded to over 2,000 dispatches, supporting people in crisis and providing longer-term support to those who request it. We are proud to be a part of this work and are hopeful about city-wide expansion and what that will mean for our community. It is fundamental that Indigenous folks across Toronto have access to these types of supports. TCCS allows individual experiencing crisis to have self-determination in their care. We look forward to our ongoing partnership with the City of Toronto and to the growth of TCCS in the coming year.”
– Keith McCrady, Executive Director 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nation
“This recommendation reaffirms the vital importance of the Toronto Community Crisis Service in providing immediate, compassionate assistance to individuals in crisis and speaks volumes about its positive influence on the well-being of our community. CMHA Toronto and our partners remain committed to cultivating a sense of safety and trust among our community to access the support they need, when they need it most.”
– Michael Anhorn, Chief Executive Officer Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Toronto Branch
“Findhelp 211 is proud to partner with the City of Toronto to connect Torontonians to mental health supports when and how they need it. We look forward to our continued collaboration with the City and community anchor partners as this transformative service expands. Congratulations to all the partners for your passion and delivering this much needed service.”
– Sue Wilkinson, Executive Director Findhelp Information Services 211 Central
“We are encouraged to see the City continue to build on the success of the Toronto Community Crisis Service by expanding the services city wide. Strengthening the City’s infrastructure to provide a mental health response that is grounded in community, trauma informed focussed on harm reduction, will go a long way in providing all Torontonians with compassionate care where and when they need it.”
– Susan Davis, Executive Director, Gerstein Crisis Centre
“TAIBU and our collaborative partners are inspired by the one-year evaluation report of the Toronto Community Crisis Service pilots. It highlighted the community impact as well as the impact on stakeholder providers, nuances with service delivery and more importantly, how we can improve this initiative. Over the last year, this work has been rewarding, challenging and ground-breaking in its innovative way of finally seeing, hearing and meeting the needs of the community. We look forward to continuing to lay and build the foundation for a non-police-led mental health crisis service in the hopes that it will become the fourth emergency service not only through the expansion in the City of Toronto but a model for Canada.”
– Raquel Hamlet, Manager Community Crisis and Mental Wellness, TAIBU Community Health Centre
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