The federal Conservatives are calling on the Liberal government to set a firm timeline for setting up a national three-digit suicide prevention hotline.
“It’s been almost 160 days since Parliament passed a motion to create a national three-digit suicide prevention hotline. During this time, the Liberals have failed to take action,” Conservative MP Todd Doherty said in a statement being released later today.
“The mental health and wellness of Canadians have been severely impacted during this pandemic. Now is the time for action, not more delays or more consultations. The simple fact is struggling Canadians can’t afford to wait any longer.”
In December, the House of Commons voted unanimously in favour of a Conservative motion to create a national, three-digit suicide prevention line.
Doherty said he wants the Liberal government to act “immediately” to ensure Canadians whose mental health has been strained by the pandemic have somewhere to turn.
In July of last year, the Public Health Agency of Canada agreed to commit $21 million over five years to set up a pan-Canadian suicide prevention service that would offer 24-hour bilingual crisis support from trained responders via voice, text and online chat.
The work to build the service is being done by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Canadian Mental Health Association and Crisis Services Canada.
Crisis Services Canada already runs a hotline that can be used by anyone across the country, but it’s still trying to get more local suicide prevention services involved. Eight services are involved in the national hotline now, in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and B.C.
The goal is to add two more services per year over the next five years; there are an estimated 146 crisis and distress services across Canada. The plan is eventually to have all regions of Canada represented.
In the U.S., work to set up a national suicide hotline started in 2018. It is expected to be fully operational by July 2022. A Federal Communications Commission report from July said telecom providers in that country are expected to incur costs of $367 million to update switches and replace equipment required to make the 988 number work.
Where to get help:
Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (Phone) | 45645 (Text, 4 p.m. to midnight ET only) crisisservicescanada.ca
In Quebec (French): Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre