The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) says 988 will be the new number Canadians who need immediate mental health crisis or suicide prevention intervention can call or text.
The number will direct users to services that deal with mental health or suicide prevention. Once implemented, the number will be free to use and access regardless of geographic location or socioeconomic status.
In order for the number to work across the country, the CRTC said areas with seven-digit dialling must get access to 10-digit dialling first. Seven-digit dialling is the norm in Newfoundland and Labrador, northern Ontario and the Yellowknife area. Service providers have until May 31st, 2023, to make the change.
988 will launch across Canada on November 30th, 2023.
“A single, easy to remember point of contact will provide much-needed help to those in crisis and will be crucial to saving lives,” Ian Scott, Chairperson and CEO of the CRTC, said.
“Although much work is left to be done to bring help to people who need it, we have set accelerated timelines to ensure that 988 is implemented as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”
Canadians looking for assistance in the meantime can call Talk Suicide Canada at 1-833-456-4566. Quebec residents can call 1-866-277-3553.
Assistance is also available through text. Adults can reach out to 741741 and youth to 686868. Residents in Quebec can text 1-855-957-5353. Talk Suicide Canada’s text service is open from 4pm to midnight EST. Canadians can text them at 45645.