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Bridgewater Police asking province to pay for officers waiting in ERs

By Evan Taylor May 17, 2024 | 1:10 PM

The Bridgewater Police Service emblem. Photo: CKBW Files

The Bridgewater Police Service (BPS) intends to invoice the province for instances where their officers are required to wait for more than two hours in emergency rooms.

In a letter written to Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson BPS indicated their officers have spent over 180 hours waiting in emergency rooms this past year.

The letter said the incidents with long ER waits typically arise out of wellness checks, where people experiencing mental health emergencies.

BPS says by doing so police resources are being taken away from the community and “posing a significant risk to general public safety,”.

Deputy Chief Danny MacPhee also explained that it is unfair on those people waiting in ERs with police officers, due to stigmas associated with anyone being escorted by police.

Province sheepish on willingness to pay

Health Minister Michelle Thompson was asked about if the province would pay but avoided giving a clear answer.

“I understand it does tax resources, we need to be patient-centred in our approach to this and there are conversations to take place on that as we move forward,” said Thompson.

The health minister then directed reporters to ask Mental Health and Addictions Minister Brian Comer if the province would be paying the bills.

Comer was also reluctant to provide a direct answer. He did however say work is being done on a pilot program that will test civilian-led crisis responses. They are also working on another program to provide mental health and addiction clinician support to first responders through the provincial crisis line, which would help triage patients experiencing mental health emergencies.

Those plans align with one of the key recommendations of the Mass Casualty Commission which recommended not having police respond to mental health crises.