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Government of Canada announces more than $320,000 in funding to enhance equity, diversity and inclusion in distress and crisis centres in Guelph


News Release

For Immediate Release

Funding is part of a commitment of $8 million in Canada through the Distress Line Equity Fund.

March 7, 2024                         Guelph, ON                               Public Health Agency of Canada

Everyone in Canada should have access to mental health resources when they need them the most, regardless of their culture, social or economic status. The Government of Canada is committed to helping ensure the best possible crisis intervention supports and resources are available for those in distress.

Today, Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph, on behalf of the Honourable Ya’ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced funding for the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington Branch and Compass Community Services as part of over $3.4 million in funding to 18 organizations through the Distress Line Equity Fund. This funding will address gaps in equity, diversity and inclusion within Canada’s crisis and distress line sector. These organizations were the successful applicants of the first round of solicitations to submit a funding request for projects and initiatives that address the objectives and priorities of the Distress Line Equity Fund.

The local investment includes $245,161 in funding to modernize CMHA Waterloo Wellington’s Here 24/7 crisis response and referral system to address equity, diversity, and inclusion service gaps. 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. 

Funding of $78,230 was also announced for Compass Community Services to meet the diverse needs of the population they serve including 2SLGTBQIA+, racialized and Indigenous persons and older adults. Last year, Compass’ telephone support lines connected with over 35, 000 calls and with this funding will expand their capacity to listen and navigate barriers typically preventing marginalized groups from accessing services. This will include an operational review of EDI processes, procedures and increase training and support for all volunteers and staff.

This announcement also includes $3.2 million for 17 additional organizations providing crisis and distress line services to support equity-deserving groups across Canada. This announcement is part of the Government’s $8 million total investment for the Distress Line Equity Fund. 

This Government of Canada program will help ensure distress lines and centres are able to respond to the needs of everyone who calls, including populations most affected by suicide, such as Indigenous peoples, members of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, newcomers, veterans, older adults, and those living in remote communities.


“Crisis and distress lines are an integral part of our public health approach to suicide prevention and are often the first point of contact for people who are struggling. When people feel heard and understood, no matter their race, religion, culture or socio-economic background, we can save lives. With access to this funding, these important service organizations will be able to increase their ability to support and respond to the diverse needs and experiences of those who reach out to them.”

The Honourable Ya’ara Saks

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“Since the launch of Here 24/7 in Guelph we have seen increased needs for service. This is particularly true for people who feel further isolated because of how they identify themselves, because of age, or because of racial segregation. Thanks to the incredible work of CMHA and Compass, people are getting the support they need as they face mental health challenges and look for better days ahead.”

Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph

“For over ten years, Here 24/7 has guided our community in accessing mental health and addictions support. As the lead agency for Here 24/7, Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington knows how critical it is for us to continue to evolve our service to better respond to the needs of equity deserving communities. CMHA Waterloo Wellington and Here 24/7 is dedicated to our journey towards Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Anti-Racism and this funding will provide us with an opportunity to find new ways to provide care that ultimately improves the service experiences of our equity-deserving clients, and to address disparities in our service delivery to promote better mental health services and outcomes for all.”

Helen Fishburn, Chief Executive Officer, CMHA Waterloo Wellington

“Compass is grateful for this funding. We look forward to better addressing equity, diversity and inclusion issues for our community and personnel. We look to further eliminate those barriers within our public information systems, promote awareness and increase volunteer recruitment.”

Joanne Young Evans, Executive Director, Compass Community Services

Quick Facts

Associated Links

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  Alexander Fernandes Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor Office of the Honourable Ya’ara Saks Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health 613-290-0318      Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
The office of Lloyd Longfield Member of Parliament for Guelph 519-837-8276
Public Inquiries: 613-957-2991 1-866-225-0709 
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