November 30, 2018

Police and Crisis Team Launched in North Battleford

A new Police and Crisis Team (PACT) in North Battleford will improve how front-line policing services respond to people in mental health crisis situations.

Corrections and Policing Legislative Secretary and Battlefords MLA Herb Cox on behalf of Health Minister Jim Reiter and Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell joined representatives of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, the RCMP, and the community for a launch event today.

“By dealing with these situations more effectively, we can avoid emergency department visits and free up officers to focus on other priority areas,” Cox said.  “This innovative approach reflects our government’s commitment to wellness and safety in our communities.”

PACTs pair mental health professionals with police officers, creating a mobile team that can de-escalate mental health crisis situations.  The goal of this collaborative initiative is to provide the right kind of care to people who are better-served in the community, thereby avoiding emergency department visits and entry into the criminal justice system.

“The Saskatchewan Health Authority is excited about our partnership with the RCMP in North Battleford,” Saskatchewan Health Authority Executive Director Primary Health Care Northwest Vikki Smart said.  “Having front-line staff available to provide support in the moment will most importantly benefit the individuals in need.  We know that similar programs have helped reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments.  Most importantly, though, programs such as PACT can respond to help people in need, when they need it most.”

PACTs are already making a difference in Saskatoon and Regina. New units were recently launched in Prince Albert and Moose Jaw, with Yorkton expected in the weeks ahead.

“The North Battleford RCMP welcomes the expansion of the PACT program in our community,” RCMP PACT Co-ordinator Sgt. Pernell St. Pierre said.  “There is much more to community safety than just having the police enforce laws and make arrests.  Working in partnership with mental health professionals provides us with an opportunity to address some of the issues associated with public safety before they result in criminal activity.”

The Government of Saskatchewan is investing $980,000 in 2018-19 for new PACT programs.  The Ministry of Health funding for this expansion comes from the Canada-Saskatchewan Bilateral Funding Agreement.

Announced in January 2017, the federal government is providing Saskatchewan with close to $350 million over 10 years for targeted incremental investments in home and community care and mental health and addiction services.