Enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion within Canada’s crisis and distress line sector

TORONTO, March 1, 2024 /CNW/ – When people are in crisis, they need immediate support. Distress and crisis centres are an integral part of Canada’s public health approach to suicide prevention and often the first point of contact for people who are struggling.

Today, the Honourable Ya’ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced over $3.5 million to 19 organizations to help build their capacity and ability to respond to the diverse needs and experiences of every person who reaches out to them. These organizations are the first successful applicants under the Distress Line Equity Fund, which commits $8 million in federal funding to address gaps in equity, diversity and inclusion within Canada’s distress line sector.

The investment announced today includes $250,000 to Distress Centres of Greater Toronto to expand its reach of crisis services to racialized community members. This funding will enable 24/7 availability of multilingual distress line services, reduce mental health stigma by providing education in racialized communities, increase the diversity of distress centre volunteers, develop internal equity, diversity and inclusion competency through training for new staff and volunteers, and conduct research to better understand the mental health needs of racialized communities.

It is essential that everyone in Canada has access to mental health resources when they need them the most, regardless of their culture, social or economic status. This initiative to enhance equity, diversity and inclusion in the distress line sector is an important complement to the 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline, which launched in Canada on November 30, 2023.


“When people feel heard, understood and supported, we can save lives. The funding announced today will help distress centres expand their incredible work and better respond to the needs of everyone who reaches out to them, regardless of race, religion, culture or socio-economic background. We want people to know, if they need help, that they are not alone and support is available.”

The Honourable Ya’ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“Many people in our community struggle with anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation and are often lonely, isolated and stigmatized. Our highly trained volunteers provide peer support and a non-judgemental ear. We are grateful to the Government of Canada for the generous support from the Distress Line Equity Fund; it will help ensure that all members of our community have access to 24/7 crisis support in a manner that works best for their needs and will help us address the barriers that are currently limiting access to immediate crisis support.”

Robert Ridge
Executive Director, Distress Centre of Greater Toronto

Quick Facts
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada provided funding to organizations providing crisis and distress line services based on defined eligibility criteria. The maximum funding available per project was $250,000 for a maximum duration of twelve months.
  • Information pertaining to the objectives of the Distress Line Equity Fund can be found here.
Associated Links

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada