Canadian crisis centers in danger of folding from lack of volunteers, revenue

Apr 27, 2020

Despite a surge in demand due to COVID-19, many distress centers across Canada are dangerously close to folding due to major declines in both volunteers and revenue.

Stephanie MacKendrick, CEO of Crisis Services Canada, which runs the only national suicide-specific helpline in Canada, said community distress centers across the country have seen 30%-50% more crisis calls since the pandemic began.  Yet they have also seen fewer volunteers, with some reporting a loss of up to 90%.

Credit Crisis Services Canada

While centers have started turning to paid staff to make up the difference, their cash flows have also been hit hard as their main sources of revenue - training and workshops - have dried up overnight due to the pandemic.

MacKendrick called this the "perfect storm" for these centers, with many now struggling to stay afloat. That is why her organization has asked Ottawa to provide $15 million in emergency funding to keep distress centers from having to close their doors.

Sunday, the country reported more than 1,200 new cases of COVID-19 and at least 95 additional deaths. The national toll to date stands at 46,895 confirmed cases, including 2,560 deaths and 17,334 cases resolved.