The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) provided $20 million to the University of Regina to fund five projects in support of mental health, the largest one-time funding contribution in the University of Regina’s history.

“Canada’s frontline and essential workers have sacrificed so much to keep us healthy and safe throughout the pandemic, and they deserve our support,” said the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Associate Minister of Health in a news release.

"The investment today is so important because we are trying to get ahead of a massive series of challenges that are coming out of having leaned on a very few people across our country so hard, for so long now,” said Dr. Nick Carlton, professor at U of R and scientific doctor for the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment.

The funding will go towards:

  • Expansion and evaluation of the Before Operational Stress Program
  • Canadian Institutes for Pandemic Health Education and Response
  • Prevention resources and supports for public safety personnel and their families
  • Advancing peer support programming to address PTSD and trauma among Canadian public safety personnel and veterans
  • Training and Development Program for public safety personnel

The University of Regina, along with several partners in Canada, will lead the projects.

Providing at-risk family members with mental health resources and supports is critical for addressing their needs and also supports the mental well-being of the associated public safety personnel,” said Dr. Nathalie Reid of the Trauma Research Centre (CRTC) at the University of Regina, who also co-leads one of the projects.

Throughout the pandemic, the country saw the impacts of mental health on health care providers, first responders and public safety personnel, and the hope from all involved this announcement, is that this funding shows current and future Canadians entering these fields that support is there for them.

“In funding this ever, more important research, is thanking people for their service. That this is about us keeping people well, not just patching them up when they get sick,” said Minister Bennett.

The mental health challenges were there before the pandemic, and Dr. Carlton says will be significantly felt after as well.

"And these are people who were reporting significant mental health challenges long before the pandemic and have made true sacrifices. I know paramedics for example who have gone weeks without breaks, nurses who have gone weeks without breaks, police officers who have exposed themselves to COVID."