Ontario Improving Access to Timely Care for Patients in Crisis

Ministry of Health Ontario

In emergency departments across the province, people in crisis are placed under police supervision, often for up to eight hours, until they are admitted under the guidelines set out by the Mental Health Act. Not only can police presence in a hospital be distressing for some patients, police officers are frontline resources that can be better used in their communities, serving the public and not waiting in hospitals. That's why Ontario is encouraging police services and hospitals to work together to improve transitions for patients.

The Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, the, Solicitor General, and the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addiction, were at Bluewater Health to announce a new police-hospital transition framework and toolkit to support developing better transitions for people experiencing a mental health crisis across Ontario.

Developed in collaboration with health care partners and police services, the new framework and toolkit aim to:

  • Help people access timely care and protect their privacy
  • Decrease transfer of custody wait times so police officers can return to their duties sooner
  • Improve patient transfers so hospital staff can better meet their needs
  • Build stronger relationships and coordination between hospitals and police services
  • Protect the safety and security of vulnerable people, the public and health care workers. 

While at Bluewater Health, government officials also celebrated the launch of the Mental Health Engagement and Response Team (MHEART) — a mobile crisis intervention team in Sarnia to help de-escalate high-pressure situations. Nurses specialized in mental health care from the Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent will work with the Ontario Provincial Police, Sarnia Police and Bluewater Health to better support patients access the care they need.