More than $200,000 of provincial funding is supporting the police in Hawkesbury and Russel County responding to mental health crises in the United Counties of Prescott and Russell.
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Stéphane Sarrazin announced Friday, October 13, that as part of the Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) Enhancement Grant program, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in Hawkesbury and Russell County each received $120,000 each to increase mental health and addiction workers on their teams.
The MCRT program is intended to help police forces to better leverage local mental health expertise for additional assistance on call involving individuals experiencing mental health or addiction crises. Supported by the police, crisis workers can assess if an individual should be sent to an emergency department for treatment or provide referrals to community programs that support mental and physical well-being, according to the news release.
“I am proud to see the government supporting our local Mobile Crisis Response Team by providing them with the resources to deliver early intervention and options for people in the midst of a mental health-related crisis,” stated Stéphane Sarrazin, MPP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell. “This funding will further support our team of Hawkesbury General Hospital’s mental health professionals and OPP officers to provide our communities with the help they need in crisis situations.”
OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said officers across the province are called upon to respond to thousands of mental health calls every year, stretching police resources and forcing officers to answer calls they are not necessarily trained to handle.
“The integrated Mobile Crisis Response Teams approach, with officers and crisis workers attending calls together, supports de-escalation at the time of crisis and connects individuals with the right community resources, at the right time, to better meet their needs and reduce future police interactions,” stated Carrique.
As part of the 2023-2024 budget, the provincial government is allocating more than $4.5 million to police services in Ontario to support MCRTs.