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Government Consultation on a 3-Digit Phone Number for Mental Health Support

We are all familiar with 9-1-1, the phone number for police, fire and medical emergencies. How about a 3-digit phone number for mental health emergencies? When someone is having a mental health crisis, it can be very difficult to find—or remember—a 10-digit or 7-digit phone number. This can prevent someone from receiving the help they urgently need.

Do you think Canada should have a 3-digit phone number that connects to mental health crisis and suicide prevention services? Suicide is a complex issue that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. In Canada, many different organizations offer mental health support. The services they offer and the areas they serve vary greatly. The 3-digit number would direct the caller to the appropriate mental health crisis or suicide prevention service in their area. But implementing this in Canada will have both benefits and challenges.

The CRTC regulates the phone and wireless companies who direct and connect calls to call centres. Call centres and emergency services fall under the jurisdiction of provincial, territorial and municipal governments. The CRTC will not assess the organizations that provide mental health services. The role of the CRTC is to examine the technical implications of a 3-digit phone number and oversee its implementation by the companies, if they find that it is in the public interest.

How to participate: The consultation process is open until September 1, 2021 at 8 p.m. (EDT). Keep in mind that the government will make all submissions public.

Click here to participate and for more information.

Key questions: The CRTC is examining the advantages and challenges associated with the deployment of this type of number. Among other things, the CTRC is seeking input on the following questions.

  • Should the CRTC establish a national 3-digit number for a mental health crisis and suicide prevention services?

  • How much time would it take to implement a national 3-digit number?

  • Should a 3-digit number be deployed across Canada at the same time or phased in?

  • Should the caller’s location information be captured automatically when dialing the 3-digit number?

  • Should Canadians be able to send text messages directly to the 3-digit number?

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