City looking at non-police response to mental health calls – CBC

The proposed pilot project would set up an alternative number to 911

Jun 19, 2023

One Ottawa neighbourhood could try having mental health professionals responding to mental health distress and substance abuse calls in Ottawa rather than police.

A staff report, which goes before the city’s community services committee on June 27, proposes an alternative emergency number to 911 and a 24-hour community based response team of mental health professionals and civilian support workers.

If approved, the pilot project would be rolled out in the summer of 2024 in one neighbourhood before expanding. That first neighbourhood has not yet been chosen.

On Friday, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe posted a video endorsing the program.

“I think we can all agree we need a new approach to responding to mental health calls,” he said. “A new compassionate and caring approach.”

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