Today, Mayor John Tory announced the launch of two new Toronto Community Crisis Service pilots in the downtown west and northwest areas of the city. The new alternative model of crisis response for residents of Toronto aims to better support community health, wellness and safety by providing a community-led solution to respond to mental health crisis calls and wellness checks.
The downtown west pilot, led by 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations, will launch on July 11 and operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The northwest pilot, led by the Canadian Mental Health Association, will launch on July 18 and operate 24 hours a day, Sunday to Friday.
Two initial Toronto Community Crisis Service pilots have already responded to close to 400 calls for service since launching earlier this year. The downtown east pilot, led by Gerstein Crisis Centre, and the northeast pilot, led by TAIBU Community Health Centre, launched on March 31 and April 4 respectively. Like the northwest pilot, the downtown east and northeast teams operate 24 hours a day, Sunday to Friday.
The Toronto Community Crisis Service is person-centred and trauma-informed and focuses on harm reduction. The pilots are geographically-based and operate in areas of Toronto where there is a demonstrated need and calls for people in crisis are the highest.
The newly-expanded service, led together with community partners, features mobile multidisciplinary teams of trained crisis support specialists (e.g. community health nurses, crisis counsellors, harm reduction workers, peer workers). The teams provide case management support including follow-up support, primary health care, referrals, holistic support, trauma counselling, housing and other individualized supports.
The new service can be reached by calling 211. A call triaging process is in place with Findhelp | 211 Central to triage and dispatch calls as appropriate to the mobile teams and connect callers to follow-up supports. Torontonians experiencing or witnessing an emergency should continue to call 911 for themselves, a loved one, a neighbour or others.
With four pilots now in operation, the City of Toronto can test, evaluate and revise a non-police led crisis response before implementing it city-wide.
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. More information is available on the City’s SafeTO webpage.
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:
More information about the service is available here. 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.
“We are committed to developing a non-police led response to mental health crisis that is right for Toronto. Today’s announcement and the launch of these new teams marks another vital step in our ongoing approach to helping people in crisis and our work to rebuild trust in our communities. Together with our partners, these pilots are providing a community-led approach to non-emergency calls.”
– Mayor John Tory
“Toronto Community Crisis Service pilot program is an opportunity to revolutionize how we respond to mental health crises and support communities who are often over-policed and under-supported. The service will foster a sense of safety and trust among our community so they can access the support they need, when they need it. Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Toronto Branch is very excited to launch the Northwest Pilot in partnership with the City of Toronto and seven other community agencies with whom we are collaborating.”
– Michael Anhorn, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Mental Health Association
“Two-Spirit People have always been leaders in our communities, caring for those who need it and sharing our traditional ways of knowing and being. We are honoured to continue walking alongside our communities to provide a culturally based, trauma-informed, wholistic approach to crisis response. Our approach is community based, led and informed and aims to provide individuals with a safer alternative when experiencing a crisis.”
– Keith McCrady, Executive Director, 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations
“Findhelp | 211 Central is proud of our long standing relationship with the City of Toronto, having worked together to launch the first 211 in Canada. We look forward to working with the City and all of the incredible TCCS partners as we build better community mental health response based upon evidence, strong partnership and engagement.”
– Sue Wilkinson, Executive Director, Findhelp l 211 Central
“I am tremendously encouraged by the launch of two more Toronto Community Crisis Service pilots for our community. This new service is critical in providing a new community-based response that reduces service barriers and risks for many Torontonians. I applaud the team on operationalizing four pilots that deliver an alternate crisis response model.”
– Councillor Anthony Perruzza (Humber River-Black Creek)
“Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in our work to offer an alternative response model and for these communities. The launch of two more Toronto Community Crisis Service pilots will greatly improve how we respond to crisis and provides a response that will meet the needs of the community.”
– Councillor James Pasternak (York 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.