Toronto pilot projects will have specialists responding to crisis calls

The City of Toronto is piloting a new way to respond to people in crisis with specially trained workers dispatched to emergencies instead of police.

Toronto Mayor John Tory launched the initiative in Scarborough.

“We’re at what I think is a very significant turning point for this city in the context of looking after people in the best way we possibly can,” the mayor said.

Read more: Toronto’s CAMH says police should not be 1st responders to mental health calls

The pilot is called the Toronto Community Crisis Service (TCCS) and will operate in the northeast and downtown east of the city to begin with.

The new service will be led by community partners, according to a press release from the city.

Story continues below advertisement

It will include mobile teams that are trained in crisis support. These teams will be made up of community health nurses, crisis counsellors, harm reduction specialists and peer workers.

Initially, the service will operate 24 hours a day between Sunday and Friday. It will not be available on Saturdays. As the pilot proceeds, seven-day operations will be rolled out.

One of the pilots, in the downtown east area, will be led by Gerstein Crisis Centre. It will launch on March 31.

The second pilot will begin on April 4 and be lead by TAIBU Community Health Centre in Toronto’s northeast.

The structure of TCCS will integrate its operations into Toronto’s emergency response system.

People in crisis will reach the service by dialing 911, where the call will be triaged so the most suitable emergency team responds.

Toronto said “appropriate calls” will be dispatched based on location and the availability of teams.

Read more: Crisis centre to assist Toronto police for some mental health calls in pilot project

“A lot of the times it wasn’t the police who were necessary to be there,” Tory said of the new system. “People who were trained in dealing with those who were having the worst moments of their lives (were needed).”

Story continues below advertisement

He said the teams could respond to substance abuse and anxiety attack calls.

Toronto police previously said the force received around 30,000 mental health-related calls per year.

Tory said he hopes the system will free up police officers for other calls, simultaneously matching people with more appropriate professionals.

— with files from Global News’ Gabby Rodrigues

Click to play video: 'Toronto police chief looking at possible alternate options for response following Regis Korchinski-Paquet tragedy' Toronto police chief looking at possible alternate options for response following Regis Korchinski-Paquet tragedy

Toronto police chief looking at possible alternate options for response following Regis Korchinski-Paquet tragedy – Aug 26, 2020

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

View original article here Source