• Councillor Mark Grimes

Toronto announces 4 partners as part of the launch of the Community Crisis Support Service Pilot

Mayor John Tory announced details of the new Community Crisis Support Service pilot and the four community partners that will help implement and deliver the service starting this spring.

As detailed in a staff report going to Executive Committee on January 26, the new Community Crisis Support Service will provide a community-led solution to respond to mental health crisis calls and wellness checks. All four pilots approved by Council last year will be geographically-based, operating in areas of Toronto where apprehensions under the Mental Health Act and 911 calls for people in crisis are the highest.

In March 2021, the City initiated a competitive process to determine the service-delivery partners in each of the four pilot areas. In response to community feedback and input, service-delivery partners include organizations that are Indigenous-, Black-, 2SLGBTQ+-led and organizations guided by the voices of people with lived experiences.

The successful anchor partners are:

  • TAIBU Community Health Centre for the northeast pilot

  • Gerstein Crisis Centre for the downtown east pilot

  • The Canadian Mental Health Association Toronto for the northwest pilot

  • 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations for the downtown west pilot

The new service will launch in two phases, with the pilots in the northeast and downtown east anticipated to be active by March 2022 and those in the northwest and downtown west by June 2022. The pilots will seek to better support community health, wellness and safety by introducing an alternative model of crisis response that is community-led, person-centred and trauma-informed, with a focus on harm reduction. The pilots will allow the City to test, evaluate and revise a non-police led crisis response before implementing it at a larger scale. The pilots will:

  • Feature mobile multidisciplinary teams of trained crisis support specialists (e.g. community health nurses, crisis counsellors, harm reduction workers, peer workers)

  • Operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week

  • Provide case management support including follow up support, primary health care, referrals, holistic support, trauma counselling, housing support and other individualized supports

Also integral to the pilots is the partnership with Findhelp|211 Central, an existing service that provides information and referrals for community and social services 24/7 in Toronto. The City has finalized a call-triaging process with the Toronto Police Service and Findhelp|211 Central where the latter will be responsible for triaging and dispatching calls to the mobile teams and connecting callers to follow-up supports.

The Community Crisis Support Service pilots are one of SafeTO’s key priority actions under year-one efforts to reduce vulnerability through proactive mental health support strategies and community-led crisis support models.

The City will engage a third-party evaluator to develop an outcomes and evaluation framework, as well as reporting guidelines for all four pilots. Data from the evaluation will be used to inform service delivery and support necessary adjustments to the pilots to ensure operational efficiency and service excellence as well as help guide the expansion of the service. City-wide implementation is expected in 2025 at the latest.

The details of the pilots are included in the staff report to be considered by Executive Committee on January 26 available online.

Also included in the staff report is a summary of the work completed to date by the City, the Toronto Police Service and the Toronto Police Services Board on policing reform. To date, 51 of 81 recommendations have been completed. Full details can be found on the Police Reform Implementation Dashboard here .