Ontario Launches Bereavement Support Program

Funding will provide families of fallen public safety personnel with rapid access to mental health supports

April 05, 2024

Solicitor General

The Ontario government is investing over $3 million to support families of first responders and public safety personnel who are killed in the line of duty or have died by suicide. The funding will provide free rapid bereavement counselling for up to two years following the death of a loved one.

“First responders and public safety personnel put their lives on the line for the safety of Ontario every single day,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. “That is why our government is ensuring that families who experience the loss of a loved one can access critical mental health support when they need it most. This investment is a testament to our government’s dedication to protecting everyone who helps keep our province safe.”

The Ontario Immediate Family Wellness Program will provide compassionate assistance for grieving families of police officers, firefighters, paramedics, ambulance communications officers and adult provincial correctional services employees.

“Ontario is proud to be home to world-class first responders who go above and beyond every day, sometimes putting their lives on the line to provide safety, care and support in communities across the province,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Through our government’s investment in this new program, we are ensuring that loved ones of fallen paramedics, and all first responders, have access to the compassionate supports they need to begin their journey towards healing.”

Family members can access mental health services such as crisis support, counselling and therapy by phone or online. These services are being delivered through a three-step care model that includes:

  • Professionals who provide crisis and care planning 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Comprehensive mental health services, including rapid access to counselling
  • Proactive care that supports families regardless of location or services required

Quick Facts

  • Eligible family members include partners, parents, siblings, and children.
  • The Family Wellness Program aligns with recommendations made in Staying Visible, Staying Connected, For Life.
  • The Ontario government has invested over $45 million to support organizations and programs that provide public safety personnel with access to high quality and specialized mental health services.
  • Ontario is investing $3.8 billion over 10 years to fill gaps in mental health and addictions care, create new services and expand programs through Roadmap to Wellness.
  • As part of Budget 2024, Building a Better Ontario, the government is building on its work through the Roadmap by investing an additional $396 million over three years to improve access and expand existing mental health and addictions services and programs.
  • Ontario has invested more than $10.5 million in one-time capital funding to support first responders affected by work-related stress or trauma, including post-traumatic stress injury. The services are being offered by the First Responder Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Rehabilitation Treatment and Assessment Centre at Runnymede Health Centre in Toronto.