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Families of Ontario’s fallen first responders to get free counselling

Toronto

Ontario will provide two years of free bereavement counselling to families of first responders who have died in the line of duty and those who died by suicide.

The province is investing $3M for the Ontario Immediate Family Wellness Program

Photograph of ambulance paramedics unloading patients outside a Toronto hospital.
Ambulance paramedics unload patients at Toronto Western Hospital in 2022. Under the Ontario Immediate Family Wellness Program, families of first responders who died in the line of duty or died by suicide will receive 2 years of free counselling. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario will provide two years of free bereavement counselling to families of first responders who have died in the line of duty and those who died by suicide.

Solicitor General Michael Kerzner says family members can access mental health services such as crisis support, counselling and therapy by phone or online.

He says the Ontario Immediate Family Wellness Program will provide help to families of police officers, firefighters, paramedics, dispatchers and provincial correctional services workers.

The province is investing $3 million for the program and eligible family members include partners, parents, siblings and children.

The province says mental health professionals who provide crisis and care support will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Such a program was recommended in a 2019 report by the province’s Office of the Chief Coroner, which examined the suicides of nine police officers in 2018.

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