Winnipeg is piloting a new Alternative Response to Citizens in Crisis project


Winnipeg is launching a new program to help people experiencing mental health crises at specific times of the day.

The City of Winnipeg announces that it is launching a new pilot project called Alternative Response to Citizens in Crisis (ARCC).

“In any given year, almost 50% of 911 calls are identified as non-urgent. Many of these calls do not require the intervention of a paramedic, firefighter or police officer, ”said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Even though a call to 911 may not reach the emergency threshold, it is still a call for help.”

Mayor of Winnipeg announces next phase of Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. (Screen capture: City of Winnipeg / YouTube)

Bowman says mental health clinicians will be added to the list of people who can respond to a crisis. The City says this will create a specialized approach for a wide variety of calls. The city says last year saw an all-time record for wellness checks, with 18,991 wellness checks performed. This class type has become the primary resident-generated dispatch event in WPS history.

The ARCC will be a two-person team, an undercover Winnipeg Police Service officer and an emergency support worker from Shared Health. The two-person team will be called to the scene of the crisis after uniformed WPS officers have already arrived at the 911 call, determining that it is not a threat to them.

“We want officers to have the flexibility to recognize when it’s needed, when it may be appropriate, and even if it’s not just calling the ARCC to have that consultation,” the inspector said. WPS Chris Puhach.

Erika Hunzinger, acting director of shared health crisis response services, said people in positions such as social work, psychiatric nursing and occupational therapy will conduct assessments by visiting the Crisis Response Center.

“Meeting people in crisis can be really unpredictable,” said Winnipeg Police Service Chief Danny Smyth. “Clinical intervention in the community should lead to better access to specialized services and support.”

Smyth says this will lead to preventing “overcrowding in our emergency rooms” by tapping police resources. Smyth says WPS funds have been released for this pilot project, paying the salaries of Shared Health’s agents and crisis workers.

There is no date set for the launch of the ARCC, other than early next month. ARCC is only available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

This stems from the city’s pre-pandemic participation in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. EPIC 9 grew out of the same Bloomberg Harvard process, first launched in 2019.

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