TORONTO — To ensure people get the help they need in a crisis, Olivia Chow will expand the Toronto Community Crisis Service (TCCS) city-wide and establish an Emergency Response Transformation Team to improve 911 wait times.
Chow to expand community crisis teams and improve 911 wait times
“So many people in Toronto have had a family member experience a mental health crisis, or witnessed someone who needs help, and they don’t know who to call. The Toronto Community Crisis Service is an approach that puts care and understanding first without involving the criminal justice system. I’ll make sure this service is available in every corner of our city,” said Chow. “When someone is in crisis they need an appropriate response, we need the right workers to step in and help.”
The TCCS is a community-based service of trained teams of crisis workers who respond to mental health calls made to 211 or 911. TCCS has been operating for over a year in Toronto with great success, but is only available in 60% of the city. Olivia will expand TCCS so everyone in Toronto can access it when they need it. Expanding access to TCCS will help divert more calls from 911 and improve wait times for emergency response.
Further, Chow will establish an Emergency Response Transformation Team, which will explore additional ways to improve 911 response times, because no one in a life-threatening emergency should be stuck on hold. That includes better streamlining the Toronto Community Crisis Service and better diverting non-emergency calls from 911. In 2022, Toronto’s Auditor General reported that 57% of calls made to 911 were for non-emergencies.
“Being put on hold on 911 is agonizing when you’re trying to get help for a loved one. I felt this firsthand when I was put on hold trying to get medical help for my father. No one should have to experience it. In an emergency, Torontonians expect and deserve help that comes quickly. We need to fix 911 wait times so people can get the emergency support they need, when they need it. As mayor, I’m committed to fixing 911 service for all of us,” said Chow.
Olivia was joined at her announcement Friday by retired judge Mary Hogan, retired Toronto Police deputy chief Peter Yuen, and Kofi Hope, co-founder of Monumental, who each support her plan to expand Toronto Community Crisis Service and improve 911 response times.
- The Toronto Community Crisis Service (TCCS) is a community-based service of trained teams of crisis workers who will respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis.
- Expanding TCCS City-wide, along with launching a public awareness and education campaign on accessing it through 211, will mean Torontonians in crisis are connected to a safe, appropriate response that meets their needs – while reducing 911 wait times.
- Chow will make the Toronto Community Crisis Service program city-wide, with an additional investment of $10 million funded from the property tax base. This is a small increase of 0.3%, roughly $10 a year for the average homeowner and will help serve thousands more people in crisis - finally making the service available to everyone across Toronto.
The Emergency Response Transformation Team will help make sure more people have access to the help they need when they need it. This team will explore and inform:
- Additional options for the management of 911 calls to better streamline Toronto Community Crisis Service and other responses to non-violent emergency situations such as overdose calls
- A public awareness and education campaign about the Toronto Community Crisis Services so more people know how to connect to a safe, appropriate response that meets their needs
- The addition of access points to the crisis response service to make sure people have a direct connection and the monitoring of response times at 211 to ensure there are enough operators to support the service expansion of the Toronto Community Crisis Service.
- Further expansion of crisis response teams on the TTC and across our libraries
- Advocating to the Provincial government for the addition of crisis beds across our city so people have a safe place with supports to go when they are in crisis, and the expansion of mental health and support services so people can continue to be referred to the services