Feds End Bell Let’s Talk Partnership on Thursday, Backtracks on Friday

The federal government on Thursday announced it was ending its Bell Let’s Talk partnership with Bell Canada, only to backpedal on Friday and say that Ottawa is instead looking to sign a new agreement with the telecom giant for the national mental health initiative — reports CityNews.

Bell Let’s Talk “is a wide-reaching, multi-year program designed to break the silence around mental illness and support mental health all across Canada.” The federal government has partnered with Bell Canada on the Let’s Talk campaign since 2018.

“Since the beginning of this collaboration, approaches to mental health and employee well-being have evolved within the federal public service, and there are now well-established government-wide and department-specific structures, forums, events, and activities supporting important conversations on mental health,” Monica Granados, press secretary to the president of the Treasury Board, told CityNews on Thursday evening.

“Given this progress, the government will continue to focus its efforts on public service-driven activities, and the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada will not be renewing its collaboration with Bell and its Bell Let’s Talk initiative.”

On Friday, however, the president of the Treasury Board issued a statement taking back the decision. Instead, the Treasury Board president said they are looking at a new partnership agreement with Bell Canada for the Bell Let’s Talk initiative.

“A decision was made at the Departmental level not to renew the government’s current yearly Memorandum of Understanding with Bell for the Let’s Talk day. Minister Fortier has directed her officials to establish an updated agreement with Bell in support of this day’s vital goal of raising awareness and talking about mental health,” the Friday statement read.

“Our government remains committed to working with partners to raise awareness and support everyone’s mental health, and reduce stigma around mental illness and addiction.”

As part of the yearly campaign, Bell Canada donates five cents to mental health initiatives for every social media interaction with the #BellLetsTalk hashtag, message in support, and use of special Facebook frames or Snapchat filters.

Bell Let’s Talk Day raised $7.9 million in 2021, and a whopping $8.2 million this year. The initiative also covers several other fundraising and awareness efforts in support of mental health. Back in 2016, Bell Let’s Talk worked with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to launch an interactive, online mental health portal and iOS app.