Province continuing to fund IMPACT program, embedding mental health workers in policing

QUINTE WEST – The Government of Ontario is providing $1,680,000 in base funding to extend and expand the Addictions and Mental Health Services Hastings Prince Edward (AMHS-HPE) IMPACT (Integrated Mobile Police and Co-Response Team) program following a successful pilot, Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte announced today.

The program, which started as a partnership with the Belleville Police Service and Quinte West OPP, partners addictions and mental health staff with community police to provide immediate support to individuals and families involved in police-related calls. It also works closely with Quinte Health Care to ensure individuals are supported, in both the community and when they need to present at an emergency department for addictions and/or mental health concerns. The trained teams assist police in de-escalation, connecting individuals to wraparound services, and limiting repeat police interactions.

We have seen the IMPACT and it is becoming an essential piece of our community response efforts. I have heard from police officers who wouldn’t be without now,” said Smith. “I’m pleased that our government has been able to commit to renewing the funding for this important program.” 

Jennifer Keilty-Friesen, Executive Director for AMHS-HPE, was pleased to receive the news.

“This program and partnership is already producing positive results for our communities and this base funding ensures that this will continue long term. We would like to thank Ontario Health East and MPP Todd Smith for their ongoing support for this initiative,” said Keilty-Friesen.

Quinte West OPP detachment commander Insp. Christina Reive indicated that police have seen great benefit from participating in the partnership.

“The IMPACT program’s success cannot be overstated. The ability for police to attend with trained mental health and addictions workers, when attending calls from those in crisis, allows an immediate, appropriate response. As a team, we are able to assist those in need, the ultimate goal for all of those in public service,” said Reive.

Belleville Police Service chief Mike Callaghan described the teams as a "game changer."

"We've already seen through the pilot, it is making a difference in our ability to respond to some of the most vulnerable members of our community," he said. "This is a quantum leap forward having this asset and the funding to have it. As police officers, we go in and deal with the issue and we're on to our next call. These individuals need with mental health and addictions need that continued support. We need to ensure they have an ongoing support mechanism, that they have those referrals to social agencies through Quinte Health Care, the Province and our local support services."

With the base funding confirmed, Derek McGeachy, the Associate Director of Access & Transitions for AMHS-HPE, confirmed that his organization intends to also expand the successful model into Prince Edward County and Centre and North Hastings in partnership with OPP detachments in those communities.