Two days after footage of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota sent shockwaves around the world and sparked protests against police brutality and racism, a Toronto woman named Regis Korchinski-Paquet fell 24 floors to her death after her mother had called police to take her to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. While the role of the police in this tragedy is being investigated, experts in Canada are joining those in the United States who are calling for defunding the police. But what is defunding and what could it mean for mental health in Canada? We answer some of the questions you may have.
How much funding do police in Canada get?
What do people who are calling for defunding the police mean by the term?
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Does defunding the police mean there won’t be police anymore?
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Is the idea of defunding the police a new one?
How much of the police’s work entails dealing with mental health issues?
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Are police officers in Canada trained to deal with mental health issues?
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Who would deal with mental health-related calls if the police were defunded?
Speaking to The Toronto Star, Camille Quenneville, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Ontario division, said that the province already has two crisis centres where police can take people having a mental health crisis. The Gerstein Centre in Toronto is an example of a 24-hour community based crisis centre with a mobile response team.
What about the role of systemic racism in how police deal with mental health issues?
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Would the police still have a role in dealing with mental health related calls after defunding?
What can you do?
In terms of policing and mental health, program the contact details of your local mental health crisis centre into your phone so that you can call them directly if someone is having a mental health crisis, instead of putting the burden on police who may not really be equipped to deal with the situation in the best way.
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