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News release: July 30, 2020

Peel takes steps to change way 911 calls for mental health crises are handled

Brampton, ON (July 29, 2020) – Peel recently took significant steps to change the way mental health crisis 911 calls are addressed in the community.

Regional Council unanimously endorsed a motion that calls for a community-developed plan to put more Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Teams on Peel streets. Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Teams partner a crisis worker from Canadian Mental Health Association – Peel Dufferin with a specially trained Peel Regional Police officer to defuse and de-escalate 911 calls for mental health crises.

The motion also calls for advocacy to change the Provincial Mental Health Act to allow mental health services to lead crisis responses in urgent mental health situations, where appropriate.

“People experiencing a mental health crisis need health care, but our system simply isn’t set up to deliver the help they need in those moments of desperation. It’s time to accelerate change,” said Regional Councillor Dipika Damerla, Vice-Chair of the Health Services committee who brought the motion to Council.

Under current legislation, police are required to lead interventions for 911 calls for mental health crises but acknowledge that mental health should not be a policing matter. Changes to legislation to formally empower mental health workers to lead during crises, when appropriate, puts health care for people at the forefront of response.

Mental health and addictions are combined as one of three priorities of Peel’s 18-month-old Community Safety and Well-Being planning table (CSWB), a committee of elected officials, Region of Peel, police services, local municipalities, education, health, and community and social service providers. This group is focused on building a safe, inclusive and connected Peel where all residents thrive.

The Community Safety and Well-being planning table’s other two priorities are family violence and systemic discrimination. All three priorities have been pressing needs in Peel during the pandemic.

Chronic underfunding of mental health and addiction supports has left Peel residents with too few options and long wait times for mental health services in the community. In 2019, Peel children and youth seeking counselling and intensive treatments waited 737 days for service, the longest in the province. Today, Peel Regional Police respond to 16-17 mental health interventions every day.

“For too long, chronic underfunding has tied the hands of our first responders as crisis calls increase. The Peel community is committed to getting our first responders modern, health-first toolkits to better defuse and deescalate mental health emergencies, and ultimately protect the well-being of residents in need,” said Regional Councillor Johanna Downey, Chair of the Health Services committee and a member of the Extended Leadership Table for Peel’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan.

The details about the Community Safety and Well-Being plan for Peel will be shared with the community and Regional Council this fall.

Media contacts

Scott Fry
Communication Specialist
Region of Peel
Tel: 647-224-8643

The Region of Peel works with residents and partners to create a healthy, safe and connected Community for Life for approximately 1.5 million people and over 175,000 businesses in the cities of Brampton and Mississauga and the Town of Caledon. Peel's services touch the lives of residents every day. For more information about the Region of Peel, explore and follow us on Twitter @regionofpeel and Instagram