Today, Mayor John Tory announced the launch of a new alternative model of crisis response for residents of Toronto. The Toronto Community Crisis Service, aimed at better supporting community health, wellness and safety, will provide a community-led solution to respond to mental health crisis calls and wellness checks.
The new service, which is person-centred and trauma-informed, focuses on harm reduction. It will be geographically-based and operate in areas of Toronto where there is a demonstrated need and calls for people in crisis are the highest.
The Toronto Community Crisis Service, led in partnership with community partners, will be launched in the northeast and downtown east areas of the city. The service will:
The downtown east pilot led by Gerstein Crisis Centre, will launch on March 31 and the northeast pilot, led by TAIBU Community Health Centre on April 4. In addition, the northwest and downtown west pilots, to be led by the Canadian Mental Health Association and 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations will kick-off in July.
Once launched, the new service can be reached by calling 911. A call triaging process is in place with Toronto Police Service and Findhelp|211 Central to triage and dispatch calls as appropriate to the mobile teams and connect callers to follow-up supports. Appropriate calls will be dispatched based on the call location, dispatch criteria and availability of teams. Torontonians experiencing or witnessing an emergency should continue to call 911 for themselves, a loved one, a neighbor, or others.
The Toronto Community Crisis Service is one of SafeTO’s key priority actions to reduce vulnerability through proactive mental health support strategies and community-led crisis support models. The pilots will allow the City of Toronto to test, evaluate, and revise a non-police led crisis response before implementing it at a larger scale.
Beyond the Toronto Community Crisis Service pilots, there are other supports available for people experiencing a mental health crisis and looking to connect with someone, including:
To learn more about the service, visit www.Toronto.ca/CrisisService.
The City is committed to supporting the mental health needs of communities. For additional mental health resources, please visit the City’s Mental Health Resource webpage.
“Today’s announcement marks an important step in advancing the City’s commitment to helping people in crisis. This is the first time in Toronto’s history that we’re doing something like this, and the introduction of these pilots reflect real change for many in our city. We want to make sure we do this right. We will learn as we go, that is the purpose of these pilots, and in the process shift how we respond to mental health crises in our city.”
– Mayor John Tory
“TAIBU is very much excited to partner with the City of Toronto and our collaborative stakeholders to launch this long-awaited community-based service that will meet the needs of the community when it comes to responding to crisis in Scarborough. Our model of service, influenced by the information received through community consultations, will seek to develop a trusting relationship with community members so they can access the support they need at the right time, in a culturally affirming manner and with the right service as well as connections and referrals.”
– Liben Gebremikael, Executive Director, TAIBU Community Health Centre
“As one of the four anchor partners in the Toronto Crisis Support Service, Gerstein Crisis Centre welcomes this opportunity to work, partner and ally with others in our community to provide a crisis response that respects the individual in crisis, reduces stigma and unnecessary police involvement, and provides a health and social response that builds on the individuals strengths and connects them to the supports they need.”
– Susan Davies, Executive Director, Gerstein Crisis Centre
“The launch of the Toronto Community Crisis Service is a significant milestone for our community. The new service provides those experiencing a mental health crisis with safe, compassionate, and respectful crisis services. I thank everyone who contributed to getting this crisis response model off the ground.”
– Councillor Paul Ainslie (Scarborough Guildwood)
“The Toronto Community Crisis Service connects people experiencing crisis to immediate assistance, follow-up, and case management with support workers who have a solid understanding of and appreciation for the culture and context their clients are living in. The City’s partnership with the four community partners and community outreach has been central in developing a Toronto-made solution.”
– Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park)
“Data shows that over the past five years, there has been a 32 per cent increase in ‘person in crisis’ calls. The Toronto Community Crisis Service will provide a new community-based response that reduces service barriers and risks for many Torontonians, particularly those with lived-experience of mental health and substance abuse issues.”
– Councillor Cynthia Lai (Scarborough North)
“I am extremely encouraged with the announcement being made today, especially for the positive outcomes anticipated in the Downtown East. The launch of Toronto Community Crisis Service begins to reimagine the roles police play in society and recreate systems of public safety that increase confidence in community policing, strengthen neighbourhood partnerships and keep all Torontonians safe.”
– Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre)
“I commend the team on the delivery of this alternate crisis response model. The Toronto Community Crisis Service is critically important in ensuring Torontonians are supported in mental health crisis and equally significant in setting the stage for the development of a broad comprehensive mental health system.”
– Councillor Gary Crawford (Scarborough Southwest)
“I am encouraged by the launch of this new, client-centred, harm reduction service. It should materially improve the way we respond to community crises in our diverse and often vulnerable communities.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre)
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.