The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will adopt 9-8-8 late next year as “the number to call or text for Canadians who are in need of immediate mental health crisis and suicide prevention intervention.”

The number, once implemented by telephone and wireless service providers, will send calls and texts to 9-8-8, which will then be directed to a mental health crisis or suicide prevention service, free of charge.

“The implementation of 9-8-8 as an easy-to-remember, three-digit number will help reduce barriers to mental health and suicide prevention resources,” reads a CRTC statement. “The number will enable greater access regardless of geographic location or socioeconomic status as it will be available from coast to coast, 24/7 and free of charge. Furthermore, the ability to text to 9-8-8 will ensure that people in crisis who are unable to safely call, or prefer texting, are able to obtain counselling.

“We are taking a significant step in making mental health and suicide prevention resources more accessible to everyone in Canada,” said Ian Scott, chairperson and CEO of the CRTC. “A single, easy-to-remember point of contact will provide much-needed help to those in crisis and will be crucial to saving lives. Although much work is left to be done to bring help to people who need it, we have set accelerated timelines to ensure that 9-8-8 is implemented as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”

What it means for Yellowknife?

“In order for 9-8-8 to function across Canada, 10-digit dialing must first be introduced in areas where 7‑digit dialing is still the norm,” the CRTC notice advises. “This includes Newfoundland and Labrador, northern Ontario and the Yellowknife area.

“To this effect, the CRTC is “requiring service providers to complete the transition to 10-digit local dialing in these areas by May 31, 2023.”

Following the completion of the transition, service providers will have a total of six months to make any necessary changes to their networks to enable callers to dial or text 9-8-8.

“This will ensure that 9-8-8 is launched across Canada at the same time, on Nov. 30, 2023.”

Immediate help

In the meantime, people in Canada who are experiencing mental health distress can obtain assistance through Talk Suicide Canada by dialing toll-free 1-833-456-4566.

“Assistance is also available through text. Adults can text 741741 and youth can text 686868. Quebec residents can text 1-855-957-5353. Talk Suicide Canada’s text service is available in the evenings from 4 p.m. to midnight Eastern Standard Time by texting 45645.”

Leave a comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.