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Opinion

Erin O’Toole has fumbled the push for Canada’s 988 suicide hotline

By Kathleen Finlay      

The 988 campaign was always intended, at least by me, to be a victim-led, and victim-centred initiative, but the new Conservative Party leader turned it into a political football.

Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole is pictured arriving for a caucus meeting in Ottawa on Nov. 18. Kathleen Finlay writes that her involvement with 988 would be hard to miss, but she’s never heard from O’Toole, or anyone in his office. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Suicide is serious. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, which has been a source of unprecedented emotional stress, 11 Canadians died by suicide, and dozens more attempted to end their lives, every day. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth; in some Indigenous communities it has reached epidemic levels. Since the upheavals produced by COVID-19 began, calls to Canada’s current national 11-digit hotline and frequently hard-to-find local crisis lines have skyrocketed.

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