OPDI News & Events

OPDI NewsToGo Issue #457 October 14, 2015

Highlights include: Federal Parties' Election Platforms; Health Care as an Election Issue;  Ontario Human Rights Commission Statistical Report on Mental Health and Addictions; Update on "Not Criminally Responsible" Legislation; Ontario's Welfare Diet 20 Years Later; News; and More.

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1. Ontario Newsroom

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has released a report "By the Numbers" which highlights the statistical information that we know about persons with mental health and addictions issues in the province.  The press release and a link to the PDF file can be found here.

2.  Trial of Police Officer Charged in Sammy Yatim Shooting Begins

The unprecedented availability of a citizen-filmed video of the incident makes this trial unique:

Constable James Forcillo Marks a Historic Moment in Canada

Sammy Yatim Shooting:  4 Things You Need to Know

Meanwhile, the families of three people who lost their lives in police confrontations would like mandatory drug testing for police:

Families Call on Queen's Park to Implement Mandatory Cop Drug Tests

3. Federal Party Platforms Released

All the major federal political parties have released their election platforms.  Rather than take you to each party's website, we have found a nifty website created by a non-partisan apolitical organization that summarizes the major party platforms (including the Greens and Libertarians) and as a special bonus is available as an app (Apple and Android).  They also use footnoted hyperlinks to back up party positions:


The Globe and Mail also has a comprehensive summary:

Platform Comparison:  Where the Parties Stand on the Top Campaign Issues

A reminder from Elections Canada that having the voter registration card is not enough; you need identification in order to vote:

ID to Vote

4.  Health Care as an Election Issue

This Macleans primer on health care digs deeper into where the parties stand on health care:

Elections Issue 2015:  A Macleans Primer on Health Care

Polling shows that Canadians value health care and it is among top concerns, yet politicians are not discussing it:

Health Top Concern to Canadians, but Politicians Ignoring Issue, Poll Shows

This Toronto primary care physician relates a story of how her patient's mental state improved when he was housed and dovetails in a call for a national housing strategy:

We Need a National Housing Strategy Now

The federal parties' positions on housing can be found here:

140,000 Canadian Families are Waiting for Housing.  Here is What the Parties Plan to Do

Clubhouses (now re-branded as "community recovery centres") are speaking up:

Community Recovery Centres are Vital for Supporting Mental Health

That we had to source a "poverty as a federal election issue" from Halifax tells you how low-key the political parties are when it comes to talking about the poor:

Canada Election 2015:  Poor Overlooked in Battle for Middle-Class Vote, Says Group

Apart from a publicized Liberal pledge to fund First Nations who are under current drinking advisories, the very real problem of First Nations health has not come up:

First Nations Health Crisis is a Canadian Problem

We are also neglecting the pressing problem of prison reform:

No One Seems to Care About Prison Reform in Canada

5.  Mulcair's Position on Marijuana a Cautious One

He will not legalize marijuana, unlike the position of Justin Trudeau and an authority such as CAMH, but would settle for decriminalizing the drug.

Mulcair Calls Legalization of Pot "The Way For the Future"

Stephen Harper's position, is of course, well-known:

Fact Check:  Is Marijuana "Infinitely Worse" Than Tobacco?

6.  Harper Radio Ad Denigrates the Mentally Ill as "Criminals"

The B.C. father who killed his three children and was not found criminally responsible and sent to a psychiatric facility has been named a "criminal" in a radio ad running in that province:

Harper Election Ad Targets Mentally Ill:  Lawyers

In related news, the CBC has uncovered an unpublished report that amplifies the beliefs of those opposed to the "not criminally responsible" law passed by the Conservative government.  It states that lawyers are more likely than ever to stream clients to the regular justice system because of shorter sentences, but will result in more people with mental health diagnoses in jail, and who are furthermore untreated when released:

Unpublished Justice Department Study Critical of Not Criminally Responsible Law

7.  Ontario's Welfare Diet, 20 Years Later

John Stapleton took the time to review the infamous "welfare diet" from 20 years ago, when Mike Harris's Community and Social Services Minister cut welfare rates 21.6%, and claimed that a person could live on a monthly diet costing $90.21:

Cost of Ontario's "Welfare Diet" Soars Amid Inadequate Rates  (Toronto Star)

The Welfare Diet 20 Years Later (PDF)

8.  How First Responders Experience Stigma and Workplace Discrimination

In Alberta, where paramedics have to be licensed by the province and can be removed if they have mental health issues.  Moreover a group of peers can ask more intrusive questions above and beyond the documents required for submission when one applies to return to work:

PTSD Paramedics Will be Silenced by Discrimination, Critics Warn

9.  Why Do Teenagers "Cut" (Self-Injure)?

If you are unfamiliar with the practice and the reasons, this piece will give you insight from a healthcare professional and a patient:

Why Teenagers Cut, and How to Help


10.  21 Apps for Well-being

One app that I discovered in this article is Dosecast (for Apple or Android) which lets you enter your medications, enter reminders to take them, and even reorder:

21 of Our Favourite Apps to Help with Well-Being

You may also want to browse around this England-based site where this resource is located.

11.   CAMH Research in Sudbury Uncovers Prevalence of Violence Experienced by Those with Mental Health and Addictions Issues

These findings support the need for a trauma-informed approach to care and a worrying need for housing:

Violence Surprises Mental Health Researchers

12.  Don't Just Phone:  Visit Family and Friends 3 x Weekly for Good Emotional Health

These are the findings of a study that looked into the incidence of depression; face-to-face contact reduced risk:

Phone Calls are Not Enough

13.  Innovative Practice:  Patient-Centred Online Portal

Imagine being able to send messages to your health care team, ask for prescriptions, arrange appointments, and have labwork results to view -- all from your home computer or mobile device.  This is the reality for 1,500 lucky patients in Sault Ste. Marie:

Group Health Centre Gives Patients a New Way to Access Care

14.  "Suicide by Cop" or Something Else?

Count on a British newspaper website to examine the phenomenon of "suicide by cop" in the United States:

"Forced to Fire"

15.  Advance Notice:  CBC Firsthand Episode:  "Hold Your Fire" October 22 at 9 PM on CBC-TV (reminder)

This documentary tackles the issue of police training and looks at progressive practices where there is interaction with the mentally ill.  The news release is here.


16. Canadian Psychiatric Association and American Counterpart Statement on Border Sharing Information

The Canadian Psychiatric Association and the American Psychiatric Association join together to make a common stand on the "indiscriminate sharing of mental health records with border authorities and to protect patients' right to privacy":

Psychiatric Associations Release Statement on Cross-Border Sharing of Mental Health Information

17,  Houselink Community Support Fair (Toronto)

Please refer to the poster for this Thursday, October 22 event taking place 4-6 pm at College Street United Church (at Bathurst Street) in Toronto.

18.  Self-Help Resource Centre Annual General Meeting (Toronto)

The Self-Help Resource Centre will hold its Annual General Meeting on October 22, 2015 at the Mount Pleasant Public Library in Toronto between 5:30 and 8:00 pm.

Please RSVP by sending an email to shrc@selfhelp.on.ca. Space is limited.

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NewsToGo is OPDI’s e-mail update providing timely and meaningful information to its stakeholders. The ideas expressed are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of OPDI. We welcome your submissions; please direct them to opdi@opdi.org. Preference will be given to material which directly relates to OPDI member affiliates and issues of concern to consumer/survivors throughout Ontario. We reserve the right to edit the length and style of all materials submitted. The current and back issues of NewsToGo can be found at http://www.opdi.org.