The Gerstein Crisis Centre (GCC) has partnered with the Toronto Police Service (TPS) to provide an alternative response for non-emergent mental health-related calls.
The 911 Crisis Call Diversion Pilot Project is designed to divert mental health calls away from police responses. Since October 4, 2021, GCC crisis workers are embedded in the 911 call centre 20 hours a day, 7 days a week, responding to non-emergency mental health-related calls from Divisions 14, 51 and 52. Crisis workers provide the immediate support and intervention needed during mental health crises and connect and monitor individuals with relevant community support services.
The project was designed as a one-year pilot, but on June 22, 2022, TPS and GCC announced in principle an extension for a second year. This pilot extension supports the report tabled by Toronto’s Auditor General: “Review of the TPS – Opportunities to Support More Effective Responses to Calls for Service,” which outlines the need to explore alternative models of police response where appropriate. The project also aligns with the TPS Board’s 81 Recommendations on Police Reform, calling for the development of alternative models of community safety responses for mental health calls for service.
The second year of the project will expand to all police divisions across the city, and the GCC will increase their service hours from 20 to 24 hours a day.
For more than 30 years, GCC has been providing Toronto communities with safe, humane, equity-based crisis services to people where and when they need them. This partnership with TPS provides the appropriate, immediate support and intervention needed during a mental health crisis to better serve the citizens of Toronto.