Conservative MP Todd Doherty rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Conservative MP questions delay in suicide hotline as COVID-19 crisis calls continue

OTTAWA — A Conservative member of Parliament is questioning why a national suicide-prevention hotline approved by the House of Commons last year still does not exist.

MPs from all parties voted in December 2020 for “immediate action” to set up a suicide hotline that people in crisis could call for help by dialing 988.

Conservative MP Todd Doherty spearheaded the creation of the three-digit crisis number and says calls to crisis lines have gone up dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doherty says he is concerned that a consultation by the CRTC is taking too long, and says every day the line is delayed, a life could be lost.

Mental Health Minister Carolyn Bennett has expressed support for establishing the 988-hotline, as has the Canada Suicide Prevention Service, which operates an 11-digit helpline.

The CRTC says its consultation is looking a number of issues, including whether there should be a text option, and will conclude next year.