Ontario Expanding Mental Health Supports for the OPP
April 06, 2021
ORILLIA — The Ontario government is investing $12.5 million over three years to strengthen the mental health services available to Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and their families. The funding will support the hiring of 20 additional mental-health support staff and enhance the OPP's Healthy Workplace initiative to address issues of mental health and occupational stress injuries. This investment is part of the 2021 Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health and Our Economy. "Police personnel are among the professionals who are most likely to be exposed to occupational stress situations while protecting our communities," said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. "They often put themselves in harm's way and experience incidents that most of us will never have to face. This is why our government is stepping up to significantly enhance the mental-health and well-being services and supports that are available to our valued officers, staff and their families." The Healthy Workplace program is available to OPP officers and civilians, retired members, as well as their family members. The program's enhancements will also allow the OPP to provide consultation and support to its Indigenous and municipal police partners. This investment builds on recently announced initiatives to provide the OPP with the resources they need to better protect communities while safeguarding their mental health and well-being. These include the hiring of 200 new front-line OPP officers to alleviate work pressure on other staff; a $2.6-million investment to hire new OPP psychologists and other mental health clinicians; as well as the creation of a new integrated mental health support program launched in partnership with the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA). Together, these initiatives respond to recommendations made by the OPP Independent Review Panel (IRP) in its final report released last year. The panel was established to examine the OPP's workplace culture and how the force addressed staff mental health, occupational stress injuries and suicide among its members. "Mental health is health," said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Finance Minister and President of the Treasury Board. "People with mental health challenges deserve access to the treatment and care they need, and COVID-19 has only intensified the need for action. This 2021 Budget investment will help support mental health services to our uniformed heroes, including OPP staff." "The job of OPP officers and civilians will always involve high risks and stressors. We are not immune to mental health injuries and our members may need support from time to time," said Commissioner Thomas Carrique. "The provincial funding will further enhance our psychological services for our members and their families - we must look after our people so they can look after our communities." "The OPP Association welcomes the funding for the OPP Healthy Workplace Team to further enhance available resources everywhere in Ontario for the health and well-being of our members and their families," said Rob Stinson, President and CEO Ontario Provincial Police Association. "There can never be enough support, and we thank the Ontario government for their ongoing attention to promote a healthy workplace environment in the OPP." "Our government stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our dedicated policing heroes and will always ensure that we prioritize their health and well-being," said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "We will stop at nothing when it comes to making sure these officers and support staff have access to the highest quality mental health and addictions care that meets their unique needs. Because we know you simply can't have good health without mental health." Healthy people are essential for a healthy economy. With vaccines being distributed, hope is on the horizon. Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health and Our Economy provides the resources necessary to finish the battle with COVID-19, building on the government's record investments to protect health and jobs during the global pandemic.
Established in April 2019 to study the workplace culture at the OPP, the OPP Independent Review Panel (IRP) examined how the provincial police addresses issues of mental health, occupational stress injuries and suicide among its members and providing a series of recommendations.
Of the IRP’s 66 recommendations, 61 are completed or underway and five are being explored. The IRP report complements the OPP’s own internal reviews and the recommendations from the Ontario Chief Coroner's Expert Panel on Police Officer Deaths by Suicide Report.
Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy, brings total investments to $16.3 billion to protect people’s health and $23.3 billion to protect our economy. Ontario’s COVID-19 action plan support now totals $51 billion.