Ontario Expanding OPP Crisis Call Diversion Program

Ontario is extending resources to individuals experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis by expanding the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Crisis Call Diversion Program to the OPP Provincial Communications Centres in Orillia and North Bay, beginning today.

The OPP Crisis Call Diversion program, announced earlier this year, is designed to help provincial police officers offer the most appropriate response to calls from individuals experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis by embedding professional mental health and addictions crisis workers into OPP Provincial Communications Centres. Once assigned to the call, a crisis worker can assist callers by providing resources and tools, offering referrals, and helping them navigate the mental health system. Alternatively, the crisis worker can provide support and assist in preliminary de-escalation when a call has been assigned to a police officer.

“Expanding the OPP Crisis Call Diversion Program to these two OPP Communications Centres further supports our government’s commitment to protecting the health and well-being of all Ontarians,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “Having mental health and crisis professionals available to respond to callers in distress not only ensures individuals can get the appropriate help when they need it, it also helps reduce the need for police resources to be allocated to non-emergency situations.”

“The Ontario Provincial Police continues to work together with mental health and addiction partners to develop, expand and enhance programs, such as the Crisis Call Diversion program, to better support persons in crisis and our frontline,” said OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique. “The OPP understands that mental health is health, and that healthy communities are safer communities. Because of this, the OPP maintains our commitment to shared initiatives to better community safety and the well-being of all.”

The Crisis Call Diversion Program was developed with, and operated in partnership with Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA, Thames Valley and Thunder Bay Branches). The expansion in the Orillia and North Bay programs are being offered in partnership with the CMHA Simcoe County Branch and CMHA North Bay and District respectively.

“When someone in a mental health crisis reaches out for help, the focus should always be on the most appropriate response. Putting mental health professionals in place to respond, as this model does, helps to ensure that the individual has the best outcome,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario. “We can help those in crisis avoid unnecessary emergency department visits or, even more worrisome, engagement in the justice system. Using our skilled staff will help to make a positive outcome more of a certainty.”

With today’s announcement, four OPP Provincial Communications Centres are offering the Crisis Call Diversion Program. After a successful pilot project that began in London in November 2020 with CMHA Thames Valley Addictions and Mental Health Services, the program was introduced to Thunder Bay with the CMHA Thunder Bay and District in June 2021.