Runnymede Mental Health Centre

Executive Director Laura Kloosterman at the announcement for the new Runnymede Mental Health Centre for First Responders.

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Left to right: Christine Elliott (Minister of Health), Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Laura Kloosterman (Badge of Life Canada), and Sylvia Jones (Solicitor General)

Badge of Life Canada, through its Executive Director Laura Kloosterman, was a special invited guest for the announcement of funding for a new rehabilitation centre dedicated to treating first responders and medical personnel for post-traumatic stress injuries.

The Runnymede Healthcare Centre detailed its plans Thursday afternoon alongside politicians from three levels of government, fire chiefs and police chiefs.
Statistics show there are many first responders struggling with their mental health. Police officers, firefighters and paramedics account for 38 per cent of all work-related mental stress injury claims in Ontario, according to WSIB data from 2016 to last year. Claims have been rising steadily, from 541 among first responders in 2016 to 1,149 claims in 2021, the board said.
There’s a clear need for help specific to first responders, said Connie Dejak, the CEO of Runnymede Healthcare Centre, which will be running the new rehab facility.
There are two such centres in the U.S., she said. There is also at least one other facility of its kind in Canada in Aurora, Ont. After asking the province for help in supporting first responders, Dejak said she got a call from the premier in October 2020 saying he was on board.

Premier Ford said Thursday that it was important for the government to support first responders, whose jobs often involve “great personal sacrifice.” “Their commitment is total, they put it all on the line every single day, but that selflessness, that heroism, it comes with a real cost,” he said. The province must be there for first responders “to help them when they need us,” Ford said.
The provincial and federal governments will each provide $1 million for the capital planning stage of the centre, Dejak said, and the City of Toronto has seconded a deputy fire chief to help plan the programming.

There will be an outpatient and assessment centre in Toronto, which will be known as Station 3434, and a 40-bed in-patient facility located on a large property in Caledon, Ont., that’s been donated by the Region of Peel. Families can stay on the Caledon property when they visit and pets can come for the duration, Dejak said. “Our whole goal is to make sure that this is something that the first responder does not have to go through alone,” she said.

Construction is set to begin on both properties this spring with a completion goal of late 2024, Dejak said.

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A short description of the various therapist certifications in Ontario.

Clinical Psychologists

Clinical Psychologists are required to complete a related Masters and Ph.D. program to practice in the province of Ontario that must be research-based and subsequently have a thesis component. They are governed by the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO).

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Registered Psychotherapists

Registered Psychotherapists (RPs) are registered by the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) and, like Registered Social Workers and Clinical Psychologists, are permitted to perform the controlled act of psychotherapy.

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Registered Social Workers

Registered Social Workers (RSW) are helping individuals to enhance their well-being. They are governed by the Ontario College of Social Workers.