Saskatchewan

Federal government announces $30M for mental health initiatives for public safety workers

The federal government has announced $30 million in funding over five years for a University of Regina-based research institute to work on mental health initiatives for public safety workers.

$10M for pilot project to make mental health supports available online for police, paramedics, firefighters

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced $30 million in funding for mental health initiatives for public safety workers at a Regina firehall on Friday. (Micki Cowan/CBC)

The federal government has announced $30 million in funding over five years for a University of Regina-based research institute to work on mental health initiatives for public safety workers.

Regina-Wascana member of Parliament and federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced the funding in Regina Friday.

It will see the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) at the University of Regina work to address post-traumatic-stress injuries among public safety personnel, which disproportionately impact women, according to a federal study conducted by the U of R institute.

Of that, $10 million has been earmarked for Public Safety Canada to work with the institute to develop a pilot project that will make mental health supports and options available online, aimed at those living in rural and remote areas.

"If you are in a rural and remote location and you are suffering in silence from the impacts of [post-traumatic stress injuries], you'll be able to get at least some of the help you need," said Goodale, who announced the funding at a Regina firehall.

The other $20 million will go to a new national research consortium between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the CIPSRT, which will work to address post-traumatic stress injuries among public safety personnel, including police officers, firefighters and paramedics.

In addition, another $21 million will be "broadly" available to members of the RCMP for mental health supports throughout the force, Goodale said.

About 70,000 emergency service workers in Canada have suffered from PTSI at some point during their career, according to a news release announcing the funding.

The CIPSRT federal study on mental disorder symptoms in public safety personnel found that "substantial proportions" of participants in the study displayed symptoms consistent with one or more mental disorders.

Women were affected at a higher rate than men — 51.7 per cent of the women in the study, compared to 41 per cent of the men, displayed mental health disorder symptoms, according to the study.

With files from CBC's Micki Cowan

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