Alberta firefighters, police officers, paramedics, sheriffs, corrections officers and emergency health-care workers put their lives on the line daily to keep Albertans safe, which is why Alberta’s government is funding more mental health supports across the province.

Alberta’s government has provided a total of $1.48 million to four non-profit organizations and seven researchers through the Supporting Psychological Health in First Responders program.

“First responders and emergency health-care workers are at greater risk for work-related mental health issues, which is why funding is being provided to organizations and researchers to improve services. First responders and emergency health-care workers have our backs and it’s appropriate that we have their backs by providing for their mental health needs.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Labour and Immigration

“The mental wellness of Albertans is a top priority for Alberta’s government. First responders and emergency health-care workers are on the front lines every day, often foregoing their own needs to support others. They respond to and manage some of the most difficult situations in our society. Addressing post-traumatic stress injuries is an important part of supporting the health and wellness of Albertans, especially first responders.”

Mike Ellis, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

In the Edmonton area, $711,769 is supporting the research and programs that will improve first responder mental health. Three researchers from the University of Alberta each received the grant. The funding was used to develop a text message system that provides daily supportive therapeutic and educational messages, to study the effectiveness of digital therapies to support first responders, and for research to help clinicians assess and treat first responders at risk of complicated outcomes and improve worker recovery.

“As a provincial hub for military, veteran, first responder and family research, the Heroes in Mind, Advocacy and Research Consortium (HiMARC) is committed to improving the lives of those who serve and have served. HiMARC collaborates with partners, organizations and the Government of Alberta who share this common goal. Alberta Labour and Immigration’s Supporting Psychological Health in First Responders grant program is an incredible opportunity to amplify the efforts of researchers and organizations working to advance prevention and intervention for those at risk of, or experiencing post-traumatic stress injuries."

“This research aims to measure the effectiveness of a widespread, Alberta-made work-reintegration program that assists health-care workers and first responders with post-traumatic stress injuries return to saving lives and helping their communities. Results of this rehabilitation-focused study will inform further implementation of similar programs provincially, nationally and internationally."

Chelsea Jones, post doctoral fellow, Leiden University Medical Centre and University of Alberta

From 2015 to 2019, there were 685 Workers’ Compensation Board claims costing $104 million for first responders related to post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI). These claims represent the suffering and challenges faced by Alberta’s heroes, their families, friends and communities.

The grants support services for first responders and emergency health-care workers living with or at risk of developing PTSIs. The services include peer support and resilience training for workers and caregivers to deal with or prevent PTSIs. The grants also support applied research to develop and evaluate the most effective treatment programs and services. The second cycle of grant recipients will be announced at a later date.

Grant recipients


  • Vincent Agyapong, University of Alberta - $150,000
  • Suzette Brémault-Phillips, University of Alberta - $206,137
  • Doug Gross, University of Alberta - $49,494.50
  • Bonnie Laskewicz, University of Calgary - $209,525
  • Linda Duffett-Leger, University of Calgary - $201,614
  • Rose Ricciardelli, Memorial University of Newfoundland - $187,966
  • Dwayne Van Eerd, Institute for Work & Health - $172,820

Service providers

  • Alberta Critical Incident Provincial Network - $99,875
  • Alberta Fire Fighters’ Association -$134,662.50
  • Edmonton Fire Rescue Services – $40,000
  • Wellness Works Canada - $31,600

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s government committed up to $1.5 million per year for the grant program, starting in 2020-21.
  • Alberta’s first responders include:
    • more than 14,000 full-time, part-time, casual and volunteer firefighters, about 80 per cent of which are volunteers
    • more than 7,500 police officers
    • more than 9,400 paramedics
    • more than 770 sheriffs
    • more than 1,500 corrections officers