OPDI News & Events

OPDI NewsToGo Issue #489 July 1, 2016

Highlights include:    Ombudsman's Report on Police Training and the Use of Force; Low-Income Seniors Drug Program; Income Security Reform Working Group; Pilot Program for Victims of Sexual Assault; Google Doctor; Jobs; News; and More.

Editor’s Note:  Please be aware that many online newspaper sites are now behind pay-walls.  Not all articles with hyperlinks may be accessible due to circumstances beyond our control; we apologize for the inconvenience. To minimize the impact of pay-walls, consider regularly clearing your browser cookies.


1.  OPDI Board Nominations Now Open!

OPDI will have at least two Director positions to fill at our Annual General Meeting September 22nd, 2016.  Please read the attached letter to member organizations and forward it to anyone WITHIN your member organization whom you feel might make a good director. To be eligible, candidates must have

  • direct and personal lived experience of recovery from mental health and/or addiction issues 
  • connection to an OPDI member organization - whether as a staff, or a volunteer, or a member in good standing
  • knowledge and experience to contribute to a well rounded, skilled and diverse team

Directors do not represent their own organization, but rather the needs and interests of member consumer survivor initiatives and peer support organizations and the people served by them.  While representation is not organized around geographic areas, we do attempt to ensure that voices from all parts of the province are included.

The Commitment

OPDI's Board has nine Director positions in total.  Each term of office is for two years, and a director may be re-elected for two additional terms (six years maximum).  The Board meets in person four times a year on a Saturday/half-Sunday in Toronto, and may also hold brief teleconferences and electronic votes as needed, between meetings.  Much of the work is carried out in committee of the whole during these board 'retreats', although from time to time ad hoc committees are struck for specific short tasks.

Nomination Process

An application form is attached, and is due by July 29th.  Please note, a letter from your member organization will be required, confirming that you are a member, staff or volunteer in good standing and that your organization is supportive of your application.  The Nominating Committee will set up interviews with viable candidates during the week of August 8th, and will prepare a slate for dissemination to the membership by August 22nd.  The AGM will take place on September 22nd.

2.  OPDI Lighthouse Awards for 2016

Nominations are open for the 2016 Lighthouse Awards, on this, our 25th Anniversary.

Ontario Peer Development Initiative invites nominations for our 6th annual Lighthouse Awards, to be presented September 22th at our Mobilizing Peer Support Conference and Annual General Meeting event.

There are a total of five potential awards to be presented, in the following categories:

Awards to Individuals include the Peer of the Year Award for excellence in peer support, the Unsung Hero award for someone whose contribution to mental health/addiction work has not been recognized at a provincial level, and the Pay it Forward Award, for someone who has overcome extreme challenges including poverty, and still managed to contribute their time, expertise and support for the good of others.

OPDI will award in one or all of the above three categories, depending upon receiving suitable nominations.

Awards to Organizations include the Innovators Award for organizations, whether peer-run or clinical, that implement innovative practices or ideas to serve clients with mental health/addiction issues; and the Community Builders Award for organizations, media outlets, or public figures who contribute to the mental health/addiction and/or peer support community through their work.  (Hint:  if your organization would like to be nominated in the organization category, you should ask an individual member or a local stakeholder organization to enter on your behalf). 

Whenever awards in both of the above named categories are presented, one will go to an OPDI member and the other to a non-member. 

Download the brochure, poster, and nomination forms below:

Lighthouse Award Brochure Cover    Lighthouse Award Brochure Inside 

Lighthouse Award Poster

Lighthouse Award Nomination Form (Individual)

Lighthouse Award Nomination Form (Organization)

All the best!  And please share widely with your peers and colleagues!

3.  Ontario Newsroom

Ontario will end the practice of child support clawback for people on ODSP (Jan. 1, 2017) and those on Ontario Works (Feb. 1, 2017).  Moreover, people will not have to seek child support to be eligible for social assistance:

Ontario Ensuring that Vulnerable Families Keep Child Support Payments

Changes are being made to the way that sex and gender information are presented on health cards and drivers' licenses.  Consultation will begin this summer on how to deal with this matter around government forms and products:

Ontario Boosts Gender Inclusivity with Changes to Official Documents

After widespread disapproval by parents, advocates, and Opposition politicians of the Government's new Autism initiatives earlier this March, the government demoted the Minister of Children and Youth Services, and the new Minister has backed off those reforms and promised increased investments instead:

Ontario Provides More Supports for Children with Autism

We have a related news story:

Ontario Backs off Controversial Autism Change, Boost Services after Parents Protest

4.  Ontario Ombudsman's Report on Police Training and the Use of Force

The press release with a link to the report, two news stories including a summary of recommendations and a provocative column about the role of the mental health system in all this follow:

Ombudsman Urges Province to Ensure Police are Trained in De-Escalation

Ontario Ombudsman Urges Changes in De-Escalation Techniques after Sammy Yatim Shooting

Police Deaths:  Ontario Ombudsman's 22 Recommendations on Reducing Fatal Interactions

The State of Mental Health May be a Disgrace, but the Cops can't Fix it Alone

5.  New Eligibility Requirements for the Low-Income Seniors Co-Payment Drug Program
Starting August 1, 2016, more than 170,000 seniors will be newly eligible for the low-income Seniors Co-Payment program under the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Program.
You might be eligible to enrol in the Seniors Co-Payment Program if you are:

  • A single senior with an income of less than or equal to $19,300; or
  • A senior couple with a combined income of less than or equal to $32,300.

Seniors enrolled in the Seniors Co-Payment Program pay no annual deductible and a co-payment of up to $2 for each prescription. As a result, they will save approximately $130 on average per year in out-of-pocket drug costs.

How to Apply for the Seniors Co-Payment Program

Complete a Co-payment Application for Seniors form and send it to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. There are four ways for seniors to access an application for the Seniors Co-Payment Program:

  • At most Ontario pharmacies and all MPP Offices
  • Co-payment Application for Seniors
  • Call the Seniors Co-Payment Program at:
    • 1-888-405-0405 or 416-503-4586 in Toronto
  • Call ServiceOntario Infoline at:
    • 1-866-532-3161; or 416-314-5518 in Toronto
    • TTY 1-800-387-5559
    • In Toronto, TTY 416-327-4282

Website link
6.  Ontario's Income Security Reform Working Group Established

The province plans to move from the current complex social assistance system to a more holistic and client-centred broader income security program. This working group has a one-year mandate to make recommendations on an income security system:

Ontario Establishing Income Security Reform Working Group

Pat Capponi and John Stapleton are among the members.
7.  Naloxone Now Available Without a Prescription in Ontario Pharmacies

The antidote to opioids overdoses will now be available throughout the province without a prescription and without charge:

Naloxone Now Available Without a Prescription in Ontario Pharmacies

In related news, Toronto may soon see supervised injection sites, but it happened too late for one person, a peer worker and user:

Speaking from the Grave for Supervised Injection Sites

Harm Reduction advocate Walter Cavallieri and Councillor Joe Cressy penned this Op-Ed::

Please Inject Some Sanity into Toronto's Supervised Injection Sites

8.  Pilot Program for Victims of Sexual Assault Involves Free Legal Advice (3 Jurisdictions)

This pilot will take place in Ottawa, Toronto, and the District of Thunder Bay until 2018.  Survivors of sexual assault are, by completing a form, eligible for up to 4 hours of free advice from a lawyer -- either in person or by phone:

Free Legal Advice for Victims of Sexual Assault

Former ombudsman Andre Morin, who now writes a weekly column for several Sun newspapers, disagrees with this approach based on his past experience as a Crown Prosecutor:

Couponing the Wrong Approach to Help Sexual Assault Victims

9.  Federal Disability Tax Credit Doesn't Benefit Its Intended Target

It turns out that a study shows that six in 10 adults with disabilities don't earn enough money to exercise the use of this non-refundable credit:

Six in 10 Adults with Disabilities Can't Benefit from Disability Tax Credit

10.  WSIB (Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) Slashes Access to Serious Injury Program

The number of workers deemed to be 60% impaired or higher has dropped steadily over the past five years, restricting access to a program with better access to care.  The story mentions that the WIB refuses to "acknowledge long-term psychological problems":

Fewer Workers Getting Help for "Serious Injuries", Statistics Show

11.  Slow March to Marijuana Regulation:  Task Force Formed

This webpage from the federal government website also advises how you can provide input:

Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation

12.  Innovative Practice:  Chicago Hospital Uses "Housing First" Approach

Known disparagingly as "frequent fliers", chronic users of ER at the University of Illinois hospital are being offered housing in the form of apartments and a case manager to help restart their lives:

A Hospital Offers Frequent ER Patients an Out -- Free Housing


13.  Racialized Populations and Mental Health and Addictions Communities of Interest (CoI) Webinar

OPDI is one of the partners in this CoI.  You can register here.
Please refer also to the EENet posting.

Register for the webinar here.

14.  Google Doctor Wants to Help

If you like to self-diagnosis using the Internet, Google wants to make it less traumatic:

How Google is trying to make Online Self-Diagnosis less Terrifying

15.  Yes, Your Personality has the Potential to Change for the Better

Discover why in this article summarizing the last two decades of research into personality traits:

Personalities can Change Over a Lifetime, and Usually for the Better

17.  The Belgian Community of Geels

This town is unique in that its families have had a 500-year tradition of taking in people with mental and cognitive difficulties as boarders:

For Centuries, a Small Town has Embraced Strangers with Mental Illness


16.  Good Advice in the Height of the Vacation Season

Because you need to take time off to do your best work:

Tip of the Week:  Free Time is a Precondition for your Best Work

17.   50 Ways to Take A Break

(Found via Twitter from Sheena's Place)

18.  Access to a Psychiatrist in the United States is a Struggle

Some of the factors explained are common to Canada as well, but thankfully not the average "38-minute conversation with an insurer to confirm authorization for payment":

Why is it so hard to see a Psychiatrist?

19.  Profile of "Stand Up for Mental Health"

David Granirer's comedy venture has been around for a dozen years; here's a new profile:

How Stand-up Comedy is Helping Improve the Wellbeing of Mental Health Sufferers

20.  What a Non-Controversial Washroom Sign Should Look Like


21.  Celebrating OPDI Members' 25th Anniversary in London with a Picnic

In this 25th anniversary year, several peer support organizations in the South West LHIN are coming together for a Peer Support Picnic in celebration.  It will be held in London, Ontario on Thursday August 11th.  The Psychiatric Survivors of Elgin (PSNE) has a Mobile Team and they are using the next two months to hand out invitations and to create awareness with a "Sign my Car" campaign.  We have a poster and a PDF file for your information.

22.  Mad Pride Toronto July 11 - 17, 2016 (update)

The latest update on the Toronto Mad Pride FB page has a schedule of all the events.  They can be found in this attachment also.

23.  Job Postings

24.  Call for Applications:  2016 Helmut Braun Award (repeat)

It’s that time of year again! CCBR (Centre for Community Based Research) is now accepting applications for its annual Helmut Braun Memorial Award, a $1000.00 scholarship available to students pursuing social studies in the Waterloo Region. The award was first established in 2001, in memory of Helmut Braun, a social activist and researcher at CCBR. To learn more about this opportunity, and to download the application form, click here.

25.  Steve Lurie to Receive Order of Canada

Congratulations to the Executive Director of CMHA Toronto on this award.

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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.