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Mobile crisis response team coming to Thunder Bay

By CJ Goater May 12, 2024 | 6:03 PM

Mobile Crisis Team Announcement - Supplied Via Office of Kevin Holland

A new mobile crisis response team is coming to Thunder Bay to help people experiencing homelessness or mental health and addiction crises.

The province is investing more than $2.7 million over three years to launch the team.

This is one of three pilot programs the government is launching that use mobile crisis response teams to expand access to specialized addiction care in the community and to help avoid unnecessary emergency services intervention.

“People facing mental health and addictions crisis require immediate response and help connecting to longer-term care options,” said Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Michael Tibollo. “Our government is funding innovative programs like this one in Thunder Bay as a critical step to filling gaps in mental health and addictions care, addressing the surge in demand for substance use services and helping ensure vulnerable people connect to high-quality care where and when they need it.”

The team named Superior North Specialized Treatment and Alternative Responders or STAR is expected to launch later this year. The team will consist of community paramedicine and mental health crisis workers who can provide immediate mental health and addiction support and options for ongoing care, including:

  • On-scene interventions, de-escalation and emotional support to help reduce violence
  • Working together with 9-1-1 models of care so that they can refer eligible patients to the mobile crisis response team for appropriate, timely care instead of transporting them to the emergency department
  • A safety plan to help mitigate future crises
  • Connections to mental health and addiction services, primary care and community-based support programs
  • Transportation to treatment facilities or safe locations, such as justice-safe beds or safe consumption sites when there is available space

“Our government is making bold and innovative changes to the health system to improve access to mental health and addictions services that better reflect the needs of people and their families who are experiencing mental health and substance use challenges,” said Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Sylvia Jones. “By investing in targeted services like mobile crisis response teams, we are breaking down barriers to mental health and addiction care in communities across the province, saving trips to hospital emergency departments and police involvement for emergencies.”

Each mobile crisis response team will be implemented as a community paramedicine program and will not impact 9-1-1 ambulance services, including dispatch.

There are also plans to engage with Indigenous partners, to explore how to include an Indigenous liaison on the team to ensure cultural competence and safety.