First responders and emergency workers have Albertans’ backs, and Alberta’s government is committed to supporting their mental health needs. Through the Supporting Psychological Health in First Responders (SPHIFR) program, Alberta’s government is providing a total of $1.5 million to 13 non-profit organizations and six researchers.

The organizations receiving these grants provide first responders and emergency workers living with or at risk for post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSIs) with the services they need to help manage their injuries. Investments in research aimed at improving treatment and prevention programs will also help to improve outcomes for Alberta’s first responders.

Improved services and better treatment and prevention programs help first responders and emergency workers return to their important duties to keep Albertans and their communities safe.

“Alberta’s first responders and emergency workers protect our lives and communities every day, often at a cost to their mental health and well-being. These grants will help alleviate some of the suffering first responders and emergency workers living with post-traumatic stress injuries face by supporting improved services and valuable applied research.”

Matt Jones, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Trade

Police officers, peace officers, correctional workers, paramedics and firefighters suffer PTSIs at significantly higher rates than the general population. Between 2019 and 2023, there were 1,418 Workers’ Compensation Board claims for first responders related to PTSI. These claims cost more than $227 million and represent the suffering and challenges faced by Alberta’s heroes, their families, friends and communities.

“We are deeply grateful for the dedicated service of frontline workers and other emergency responders. Witnessing traumatic events can be difficult for anyone. If you are struggling, reach out to one of the organizations receiving this funding, or to any of our mental health supports across the province.”

Dan Williams, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

SPHIFR grants support services for first responders and emergency workers living with or at risk of developing PTSIs. Services include peer support, resilience training for workers and caregivers, and drop-in support groups for first responders. The grants also support applied research on topics such as identifying stressors in emergency dispatchers and developing reintegration programs for first responders returning to work after suffering a PTSI.

“We are deeply thankful for the Government of Alberta’s ongoing support of the Alberta Critical Incident Peer Network, which has been instrumental in enhancing the mental health of our first responders. This funding has allowed us to expand our network to over 3,000 trained peers across 170 organizations, providing vital support and recovery services. The proof of its impact is in the strength and readiness of first responders. We’re grateful for a partnership that continues to make a real difference in helping those who keep the public safe.”

Gregg Schaalje and Matthew McKeage, directors, Alberta Critical Incident Advisory Council

Quick facts

  • Starting in 2020-21, Alberta’s government committed up to $1.5 million per year for the grant program.
  • Since the start of the grant program, 50 services and applied research projects have been supported with grants totalling $6 million.
  • Applications for the latest intake of the grant program close May 27, 2024.
  • Alberta’s first responders include:
    • More than 14,000 full-time, part-time, casual and volunteer firefighters. About 80 per cent are volunteers.
    • More than 7,500 police officers.
    • More than 9,400 paramedics.
    • More than 770 sheriffs.
    • More than 1,500 corrections officers.

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