‘We want to make sure that these important frontline workers have the supports and tools they need to take care of their mental health’
Ontario is establishing four new mental health collaborative tables to better support the mental health and well-being of policing, fire, corrections, and paramedic services personnel.
“Ontario's public safety personnel and first responders see and experience incidents on a daily basis that most of us never have to face and this can have a severe impact on their well-being,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We are supporting collaboration among those working in these sectors, individuals with lived experience and leading experts because we want to make sure that these important frontline workers have the supports and tools they need to take care of their mental health.”
The tables will help inform actions to change behaviours that stigmatize those struggling with mental health challenges, achieve a healthier work-life balance, promote mental health resiliency and build awareness of supports, treatments and recovery options.
The new tables came after the Ontario Chief Coroner's Expert Panel released a report – titled Staying Visible, Staying Connected, For Life – which called for more information and resources to help officers and first responders deal with mental health issues.
“The tables will bring together individuals from various sectors with a wide range of experience and expertise,” according to the government. “Participation may be drawn from mental health service providers, researchers, and frontline workers, as well as representatives from Indigenous and diverse communities.”
This initiative builds on Ontario's Roadmap to Wellness, the government's comprehensive plan to deliver high-quality care and build a modern, connected and comprehensive mental health and addictions system across Ontario.
In 2020-21 the government will provide over $20 million to Ontario’s public safety personnel for mental health supports.
Also, Ontario recently announced $2.25 million for a corrections peer support program that will offer all corrections employees (including retirees and those on leave) who are experiencing distress of any kind, with non-clinical support for personal and workplace issues. The province also provided probation and parole officers in the North with an additional $85,000-worth of new safety devices for use when travelling to and through remote regions.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, 71 per cent of Ontario nurses indicated experiencing a breaking point related to their job over the past several months, according to a report from the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (WeRPN).