Ontario Wardens want MCRT funding made permanent

A CMHA registered nurse, part of the Lambton OPP Mobile Crisis Response Team, is photographed in Point Edward. 2021 Photo courtesy of Lambton OPP

The Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus wants the provincial government to provide permanent funding for the Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) program.

The initiative pairs specially trained police officers and mental health professionals to respond to 911 emergency calls involving mental health or addictions.

Right now, it’s delivered to the OPP on a case-by-case basis through application-based grants.

Lambton County Warden Kevin Marriott said it’s proven to be extremely valuable.

“It’s been a huge benefit to so many agencies,” said Marriott. “Not just the county’s social services division, but the police like it. They’re not sometimes trained as well to handle the calls as a mental health nurse that’s accompanying the officer. So, it’s just a benefit to everybody. I don’t know of a program that benefits as many agencies as this one does.”

The Wardens’ Caucus also wants MCRT expanded to provide more resources, in some cases up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Prior to MCRT funding being available, Middlesex County OPP reported a 63 per cent increase in mental health calls between 2016 and 2018.

They said many of those calls resulted in unnecessary referrals to the emergency department.

In August 2022, the province announced that grant funding would continue until 2025.