Terms of service – 9-8-8 Text Messaging and Calls
Last updated: November 30, 2023
If you have tried to seriously hurt yourself or end your life within the last few hours, please call 9-1-1 right away or go to your nearest emergency department.
Key definitions you will see on this page and what they mean:
- “the Service” – 9-8-8 text or phone services
- “Terms” – the terms of service that you agree to by contacting 9-8-8.
When you call or text the Service you agree to be bound by the following terms and conditions (“Terms”).
Please read these Terms before using the Service. They contain important information about your use of the Service, and your legal rights and obligations. By using the Service, which is coordinated by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (“CAMH”) and provided by organizations that deliver distress and crisis services across Canada (“9-8-8 Partners”), you agree to the Terms described below.
You can find out more about some of the key information described in these Terms here: https://988.ca/what-to-expect.
By using the 9-8-8 service you agree to the following Terms of Service.
A. Nature of the Service
What is 9-8-8? 9-8-8 is a national 24/7 helpline for anyone across Canada who is thinking about suicide, or who is worried about someone they care about. Call or text 9-8-8 toll-free, anytime for support in English and French. 9-8-8 responders are here to listen and provide help without judgement.
Who provides the 9-8-8 Service? A growing network of approximately 40 experienced local, provincial, territorial, and national crisis lines across the country that provide culturally appropriate, lifesaving support to people who call or text 9-8-8.
List of 9-8-8 Partners. A current list of 9-8-8 Partners and links to their websites can be found here https://988.ca/about, which may be updated from time to time.
CAMH’s Role. Public Health Agency of Canada has selected CAMH to manage and oversee 9-8-8. CAMH does not currently provide the Service directly to callers/texters but coordinates Service delivery by establishing collaborations with existing suicide prevention, distress and crisis centre agencies in Canada. CAMH also provides technology infrastructure to provide the Service (“CAMH Platform”) that is used by many 9-8-8 Partners to deliver the Service. Certain 9-8-8 Partners do not use the CAMH Platform and use their own technology infrastructures to deliver the Service, in which case they are bound to meet industry privacy and security standards.
The Service is Not Health Care. Your participation in the Service does not constitute health care or treatment and no therapist-patient or other professional or therapeutic relationship is created. The Service is not a substitute for professional health or mental health care.
Contacting Emergency Services. In certain circumstances, 9-8-8 responders may, in accordance with applicable laws, have to engage emergency response (which could include medical, fire, police or other first responders), authorities and/or medical services if you or others are at risk of dying or serious harm. While 9-8-8 will make every effort to do this with your consent, in rare cases, the law permits us to do so without consent.
Follow-Up Calls. If you give your consent, you may receive a follow up call from a 9-8-8 responder. Please note, the 9-8-8 responder conducting a follow-up may not be the same 9-8-8 responder who originally provided you with the Service.
English and French. The Service is available in English and French. However, for all other languages, you may request translation services from your 9-8-8 responder to receive the Service in your preferred language. CAMH and its 9-8-8 Partners will take reasonable steps to provide the Service in other languages than English and French but does not guarantee that your preferred language of choice and interpreter is available at the time of your call and/or text.
Available in Canada Only. The Service is only intended for callers and texters in Canada. If you are calling or texting from outside of Canada, your call may be answered, but the level of the Service will be limited due to jurisdictional limitations. For example, 9-8-8 responders cannot place a call to emergency services outside Canada.
No Payment Necessary. The provision of the Service is provided to you at no cost. No payment to CAMH or 9-8-8 Partners is required to send and receive voice calls and text messages to 9-8-8. However, standard voice calling and text messaging rates from your wireless and/or mobile carrier may still apply. Any costs related to sending or receiving a voice call or text message are your responsibility.
B. Terms and Conditions
By using the Service, you agree that:
- You will not text, send, or otherwise communicate any data or other content that:
- you know or have reason to believe contains any computer viruses, worms, malicious code, or any software intended to damage or alter a system or data;
- you do not have the lawful right to communicate;
- is false, intentionally misleading or impersonates any other person;
- is harmful, racist, hateful, discriminatory, abusive, or criminal;
- violates any applicable laws; or
- infringes, violates, or otherwise misappropriates the intellectual property or other rights of any third party.
- You will not always be able to talk or text with the same 9-8-8 responder each time you call or text;
- You will not be able to request to speak to a particular person or request to speak to someone of a particular race, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity;
- You will comply with all applicable laws including the laws of the area in which you are present while using the Service.
Zero Tolerance Policy. CAMH and 9-8-8 Partners have zero tolerance for any conduct or behaviour that is considered discriminatory, harassment, racist, abusive, threatening, or disruptive. If you engage in such conduct, CAMH and its 9-8-8 Partners, at their discretion, have the right to terminate or limit your right to access and use the Service.
Misuse of the Service. CAMH and the 9-8-8 Partners retain sole discretion to refuse or discontinue the provision of Service to any caller/texter at any time, including for actual or potential misuse of the Service by a caller/texter.
Right to Terminate. CAMH and the 9-8-8 Partners may, in their sole discretion, limit or terminate your right to use the Service at any time without notice. In the event of termination, you are no longer authorized to access the Service.
Modification to the Service. CAMH and the 9-8-8 Partners reserve the right at any time, and from time to time, to modify or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, the Service. CAMH and/or the 9-8-8 Partners may provide notice to you out of courtesy, but that does not obligate us to provide notice for any subsequent amendments to the Service. CAMH and 9-8-8 Partners shall not be liable to you or any third party for any modifications, suspension, or discontinuance of the Service or any part thereof.
C. Routing Your Call or Text to Other Distress Lines
Routing Calls to Provincial Distress Lines. If you are calling or texting with an area code from Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, or New Brunswick, and you did not block your number, your call will be routed by CAMH directly to the appropriate province’s distress and crisis centre agencies (“Provincial Distress Line”); texts cannot be blocked and therefore, will also be routed. Where possible, you will be notified that your call and/or text is being routed to the Provincial Distress Line and that the services will be provided by that Provincial Distress Line. Once routed, the Provincial Distress Line will provide service in accordance with its own terms and conditions of service (“Provincial Terms of Service”).The Provincial Terms of Service govern the services you receive from any Provincial Distress Line.
If your call or text is not answered in Prince Edward Island, CAMH will re-route the call back to 9-8-8 Partners and the provision of the Service will be subject to these Terms.
Routing Calls to Hope for Wellness. If upon contacting 9-8-8 you select the option available for First Nations, Inuit, or Metis, your call and/or text will be routed from 9-8-8 to Hope for Wellness’ helpline and the services will be provided in accordance with Hope for Wellness’ terms and conditions of services:
The services provided by Provincial Distress Lines and Hope for Wellness collectively mean the “Other Distress Line Services”.
CAMH is only Responsible for Routing. In circumstances where your calls and/or texts are routed by CAMH directly to the Other Distress Line Services or Hope for Wellness, these Terms do not apply to the Other Distress Line Services you receive.
Disclaimer of Liability. CAMH and 9-8-8 Partners assume no liability for routing your call and/or text to the Other Distress Line Services or for the provision of service by the Other Distress Line Services.
D. Your Information
CAMH and the 9-8-8 Partners are committed to the confidentiality and security of the personal information you provide to us as part of the Service. Personal information is “information about an identifiable individual, either alone or when combined with other information”.
I. Collection, Use & Disclosure of your Information
We will limit the collection of your personal information to only what is necessary for the purposes set out in these Terms. For example, we collect your phone number when you call or text 9-8-8. While you are not required to share other information with us in order to receive service, you can choose to share personal information with the 9-8-8 responder, such as your name, age, sex, or gender identity. We will also share your information with other 9-8-8 Partners and their responders only as necessary (e.g., for follow up or if you call again in the future).
CAMH will only collect and use personal information as an agent and service provider of 9-8-8 Partners who use the CAMH Platform to deliver the Service, for the purposes of operating the CAMH Platform and for quality assurance, training improvement and evaluation of 9-8-8.
Any use or disclosure of de-identified data by CAMH or a 9-8-8 Partner for research purposes requires research ethics board approval. We may also disclose your information if the law permits or requires us to do so.
Continuity of Service. If you reach out to the service more than once and identify yourself to us, responders who answer your call or text will be able to see information about the previous times you have contacted us. This is so they can provide better support to you.
Purposes. You are entitled to know the purposes for which we use your information. If we want to use it for a new purpose, we will ask for your consent unless the new purpose is permitted or required by law.
Calls and texts to the Service may be monitored and/or recorded and/or transcribed for quality improvement and training purposes.
III. Sharing of your Personal Information
Except as described in these Terms, CAMH and 9-8-8 Partners will not share personal information without your express consent, however, there are some important exceptions, including for emergency response (which could include medical, fire, police or other first responders) if you or someone you are calling about is at risk of serious harm.
Your personal information will not be sold.
CAMH and 9-8-8 Partners may employ individuals and third party vendors such as technology providers to facilitate or provide the Service on our behalf. These third parties have access to your personal information to perform tasks on our behalf, and are contractually bound to treat your information confidentially and securely, and not to use or disclose without authority.
IV. De-identified and Aggregate Information
Personal information does not include information that is aggregated or de-identified.
“Aggregated” means data that combines individual-level data to create large data sets about many people without revealing personal information. We will only share aggregated data about 9-8-8 callers and/or texters, but never in a way that could identify specific individuals. For example, we might share how many people contact 9-8-8, how many calls versus texts are received, or how many are in English or French.
“De-identified” means data that has had any identifying information removed (e.g. name, location, etc.).
CAMH may de-identify or aggregate personal information in such a way as to ensure it is no longer identifiable and use it for these purposes:
- monitoring, implementation, and management of 9-8-8 and its operations including incident/complaint management;
- performance measurement and service-level reporting (i.e., call answer rate, speed to answer);
- fulfilling government reporting obligations;
- conducting research in accordance with a research protocol reviewed and approved by a Research Ethics Board and applicable laws; and
CAMH and 9-8-8 Partners may share de-identified or aggregated information with funders, government entities, researchers, or third parties -to help provide and improve the Service and to better understand and support individuals in crisis and those who are affected by suicide. We will require any entity that receives such de-identified or aggregated data to abide by privacy and security obligations to protect such data, to not further share the information or to attempt to re-identify anyone, and to immediately notify CAMH of anything that could be considered a privacy or security breach.
A human responder will always answer your call/text. After the interaction concludes, a service provider may employ advanced analytics, such as machine learning or artificial intelligence, to better analyze de-identified data.
V. Storing Your Personal Information
CAMH and the 9-8-8 Partners will retain personal information as required by law, and in accordance with a 9-8-8 retention schedules.
CAMH and the 9-8-8 Partners may store de-identified or aggregated information for as long as we deem necessary.
VI. How is Your Information Protected?
CAMH and the 9-8-8 Partners take the privacy and security of your information seriously.
CAMH Platform. CAMH has implemented privacy and security controls to ensure the protection of your personal information against theft, loss, and unauthorized use and disclosure, which include:
- Physical safeguards (i.e. restricted access to servers)
- Organizational/administrative safeguards (i.e. permitting access to authorized users on a need to know basis; confidentiality agreements; privacy training; legal agreements with third party contractors; privacy and security policies and more )
- Technological safeguards (i.e. use of passwords, encryption, firewalls and audits)
9-8-8 Partners – Technology Infrastructure. CAMH requires 9-8-8 Partners who use their own technology infrastructure to provide the Service to have privacy and security safeguards in place to protect the security and confidentiality of personal information in their custody and control. CAMH also requires anyone who collects, uses, or discloses personal information on CAMH’s behalf to be aware of the requirement to maintain the security and confidentiality of personal information.
If you are connected to Other Distress Line Services, where CAMH’s only role is routing your call or text from 9-8-8 to the Provincial Distress Lines or Hope for Wellness, you will have to contact those organizations directly to discuss access to, or correction of, any records of personal information they hold.
VII. No Guarantee
Despite these privacy and security procedures, any data transmission over the internet, telecommunications platform or otherwise cannot be guaranteed to be completely secure. As a result, while CAMH and 9-8-8 Partners strive to protect your personal information, we cannot warrant the security of any information you transmit to us. You agree to use the Service and submit information at your own risk. You agree that CAMH and 9-8-8 Partners have no liability regarding unauthorized access to the Service, Other Distress Line Services and information provided by you.
E. USE OF SERVICE AT YOUR OWN RISK AND OTHER DISCLAIMERS
Use of the Service at Your Own Risk. CAMH and the 9-8-8 Partners, and their respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, privileged health care practitioners, volunteers, service providers, agents, sub-contractors, or any other entities with whom CAMH or 9-8-8 Partners contract with (collectively the “Representatives”) are not responsible for any decisions, or results of the decisions that you or a third party makes while, as a result of, or after participating in the Service or the Other Distress Line Services. This includes whether you or a third party choose to seek or not seek professional care, health care or to modify or terminate specific treatment that you or the third party are currently receiving based on the information provided by the Service or the Other Distress Line Services. You and/or the third party are responsible for all decisions you and/or the third party may or may not make during and after using the Service or the Other Distress Line Services and assume all risk related to those decisions. CAMH and the 9-8-8 Partners, and their respective Representatives shall have no liability for 1) actions taken by you or a third party, or not taken by you or a third party, 2) the unavailability of the Service or the Other Distress Line Services, or (3) the provision of Other Distress Line Services by Provincial Distress Lines or Hope for Wellness.
The Service is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis. CAMH and 9-8-8 Partners and their respective Representatives will maintain a professional standard of care. However, CAMH and 9-8-8 Partners and their respective Representatives expressly disclaim all warranties or representations of any kind, whether expressed or implied, and make no warranty or representation that the Service and Other Distress Line Services will: A) meet your requirements; B) be available, uninterrupted, timely, secure, or error-free; or C) meet your expectations.
The foregoing disclaimers of liability apply to all damages or injuries, including those caused by any failure of performance, error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect or delay in operation or transmission, whether for breach of contract, tortious behavior or any other cause of action.
Independent Contractors. CAMH, Provincial Distress Lines, Hope for Wellness, and each 9-8-8 Partner act as independent contractors in relation to the Service and Other Distress Line Services. Despite the use of the term “9-8-8 Partner”, this is meant as a collaboration only, and not a legal partnership. CAMH and 9-8-8 Partners are not in a joint venture, partnership, principal-agent, or employment relationship.
Entire Agreement. The Terms constitute the entire agreement between you, CAMH and 9-8-8 Partners, and govern your use of the Service, superseding any prior version of these Terms.
Waiver and Severability of Terms. The failure of CAMH and/or a 9-8-8 Partner to exercise or enforce any right or provision of the Terms shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any provision of the Terms is found by a court of competent jurisdiction or arbitrator to be invalid, the parties nevertheless agree that the court or arbitrator should endeavour to give effect to the parties’ intentions as reflected in the provision, and the other provisions of the Terms remain in full force and effect.
Governing Law. These Terms are governed by the laws of Ontario, Canada and these laws apply to your use of Service, notwithstanding your domicile, residency, or physical location. Any dispute between you, CAMH and/or a 9-8-8 Partner which cannot be resolved will be referred to the courts of Toronto, Ontario, Canada and to no other place. You agree to be bound by the laws of Ontario.
G. Changes to the Terms and Condition
We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to modify or replace any of these Terms at any time. Any changes will be effective immediately upon posting. Each time you access the Service you will be presented with the current Terms for review. You must agree to any modified or updated terms to use this Service. If you do not agree to the new Terms, in whole or in part, please stop using our Service.
H. Contact Us – Questions or Feedback
If you have any questions, including about the privacy and security of your information or these Terms, please reach out to https://988.ca/contact-us.
9-8-8 appreciates any feedback. If you have any comments or suggestions, please share it with us at https://988.ca/contact-us.
If you have tried to seriously hurt yourself or end your life within the last few hours, please call 9-1-1 right away or go to your nearest emergency department.