October 26, 2018

Police and Crisis Team Launched in Prince Albert

A new Police and Crisis Team launched in Prince Albert will improve how frontline policing services respond to people experiencing mental health crises.  Crown Investments Minister and Prince Albert Carlton MLA Joe Hargrave on behalf of Health Minister Jim Reiter joined representatives of the Saskatchewan Health Authority – Prince Albert, City of Prince Albert Police Service, and the community for a launch event today.

“Police and Crisis Teams have seen great success in Saskatoon and Regina,” Hargrave said.  “The new Police and Crisis Team in Prince Albert reflects our government’s commitment to improving mental health services for people across the province.”

Police and Crisis Teams (PACTs) pair mental health professionals with police officers, creating a mobile team that can de-escalate mental health crisis situations.  This unique initiative is a collaborative effort between the Government of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and the Prince Albert Police Service.  The Prince Albert PACT became operational earlier this month.

“PACT units are a good example of how police and health can work together to ensure that people who are experiencing a mental health crisis get appropriate help,” Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell said.  “This benefits not only the person in crisis, but communities overall.”

PACTs change the way mental health crisis situations are handled.  The goal is to provide the right kind of care to individuals who are better-served in the community, thereby avoiding emergency department visits and entry into the criminal justice system.

“We are excited about our partnership with the Prince Albert Police Service,” Saskatchewan Health Authority Integrated Northern Health Vice-President Andrew McLetchie said.  “Having front-line staff available to provide support in the moment will most importantly benefit the individuals in need.”

PACTs are already making a difference in Saskatoon and Regina.  Between April 2017 and June 2018:

  • Saskatoon PACTs provided 922 interventions and diverted 234 patients from the Emergency Department.
  • Regina provided 658 interventions and diverted 192 patients from the Emergency Department.

“As of this September, Prince Albert Police Service has committed two experienced police officers to PACT to work collectively with two mental health professionals,” Prince Albert Police Service Acting Chief of Police Jon Bergen said.  “As observed in other areas, PACT initiatives deliver a special response to a complicated situation with successful outcomes.  The existing PACT initiatives have demonstrated that they provide real time front-line resources to people in need while diverting and reducing emergency room visits and wait times that would have otherwise fell on general police members.  Specialized staff from both police and health will ensure we connect people in crisis with the right resources, in the time of need, all while ensuring efficiencies for patients and partners are achieved.”

The Government of Saskatchewan is investing $980,000 in 2018-19 for new PACTs in Prince Albert, North Battleford, Yorkton and Moose Jaw.  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.