OPDI News & Events

OPDI NewsToGo Issue #508 December 23, 2016

Highlights include: Health Transfers Talks Update; Legal Aid Access Reduced; Crisis Care in Sudbury; Toronto Police "Use of Force" Data; Dialogue Sessions on Creating a Provincial Evidence Priority Agenda for MH, Substance Use, and Addiction; In Memoriam (Martha Rybiak); 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.


OPDI Peer Support Core Essentials Program - Webinar for Participants on Starting an Internship
Have you achieved the Level 1R in OPDI Peer Support Core Essentials™ in the past year or two and wondered about the next step -- the practicum to earn the final certificate?  Find out more about earning the final Certificate.  The next OPDI Peer Support Internship Webinar will be held Wednesday, January 11th from 12:00 - 1:00 pm.  If you have completed the OPDI Peer Support Core Essentials (TM) Program and have received a Level 1R you are invited to join if you wish.  Please e-mail opdi@opdi.org and the information to login will be sent to you.


1.  OPDI Peer Support Core Essentials Program - Webinar for Participants on Starting an Internship

Have you achieved the Level 1R in OPDI Peer Support Core Essentials™ in the past year or two and wondered about the next step -- the practicum to earn the final certificate?  Find out more about earning the final Certificate.  The next OPDI Peer Support Internship Webinar will be held Wednesday, January 11th from 12:00 - 1:00 pm.  If you have completed the OPDI Peer Support Core Essentials (TM) Program and have received a Level 1R you are invited to join if you wish.  Please e-mail opdi@opdi.org and the information to login will be sent to you.

2.  Ontario Newsroom

a)  An omnibus of changes will happen on January 1st.  Of interest to people on social assistance is that child support payments will no longer be counted as income.  Also measures will take effect to reduce hydro bills.

On a broader level, healthcare changes will see the closing of CCAC's as their functions are taken over by the LHINs.

To digest all this, please read the press release and accompanying links.

b)  Here's the Ministry of Community and Social Service's webpage outlining how to access your drug coverage and other health services now that the paper drug card is not longer being issued (replaced by showing your OHIP card instead):

Social Assistance:  Drug Coverage and your Ontario Health Card

3.  Health Transfer Talks Leave Funding Up in the Air

This past week saw a fractious meeting, where the federal Minister of Finance offered a smaller annual percentage increase in the health transfers to the provinces, but with dedicated envelopes for home care and mental health, as well as other initiatives.  The provinces stuck to their request for a higher percentage increase in transfers without any strings attached.  Both sides returned home without an agreement, and Ottawa withdrew its package of funding for mental health and home care.  Some provinces are now negotiating in secrecy with the federal government.  New Brunswick has become the first province to negotiate a bilateral agreement with the federal government and will receive a increased health transfer increase plus dedicated funds for mental health and homecare, and will have the option to upgrade this arrangement if other provinces negotiate a better deal.  Queen's Park remains in disagreement with Ottawa.  Here's a sample of news clippings:

Provinces Reject Ottawa's Health Care Funding Offer

Health Talks Fail Despite Federal Pledges of More Cash for Home Care, Mental Health

Wynne "Concerned" About Federal Liberals' Healthcare Funding Proposal

New Brunswick Makes Own Agreement with Ottawa on Health Care Funding

"We're Getting a Major Cut"

4. Mysterious Death of Inmate with Diagnosis of Schizophrenia in Segregation

A wide range of questions remain unanswered since the Ministry of  Community Safety and Correctional Services made a brief statement around a male inmate's passing at the Central East facility:

"Why did Soleiman Die?"

5.  Legal Aid Ontario Has $26 Million Deficit, Reduces Services

It will prioritize its funding to cases where people are at risk of being incarcerated.  We have a press release and a news article:

Budget 2016 Update

Legal Aid Ontario Facing $26 M Deficit, Scaling Back Services for Criminal Matters

6.  Health Canada's Tip Sheet on Handling Extreme Cold

Some basic refreshers on frostbite, hypothermia and protecting yourself are included.

It's Your Health -- Extreme Cold

7.  Innovative Practice:  Short Wait Times for Crisis Care in Sudbury

Find out how this city has made available mobile crisis staff available at the city hospital and at a community agency.  As a result an ER wait for mental health care that could be a minimum of 9 hours has been reduced to a 20-minute period before being attended to by a clinician:

Downtown Crisis Care in Sudbury Cuts Emergency Wait Times, Mental Health Stigma

8.  Vancouver Floods Areas at Risk with Opioid Antidote Kits

Naloxone kits are being made freely available in Vancouver's Downtown East Side, especially on the verge of the end of the month when social assistance cheques are made available and diverted by recipients immediately for substance use:

B.C. Health Authorities Flood Streets with Opioid Antidote

9. PTSD Potentially Affects First Responders in Fentanyl Crisis
Paramedics who deal frequently with reviving people from opioid overdoses are being traumatized and at risk for PTSD:

BC Paramedics Dealing with Mental Health Issues as Overdose Crisis Adds to their Stress

10.  Why the Mentally Ill Experience Solitary Confinement in Prison

If you are well enough to stay out of the psychiatric ward, but are not able to cope in the general prison population, segregation is the only solution offered in an environment where knowledge of mental illness and best practices for working with people who cope with these problems is minimal:

To Live and Die in Solitary Confinement

11.  Toronto Police Service Asked to Offer Data on "Use of Force"

It turns out that this police force doesn't collect data on its encounters between officers and people with mental health challenges:  characteristics such as race, gender and language.  Thanks to pressure from a subcommittee of external experts, the police chief will be reporting back in the New Year on these statistics.  Subsequently it is not possible to measure the impact and training around such incidents:

Toronto Police Chief Pressed for Details in Use-of-Force Data


12.  Join Sharing Together! Co-create an evidence priority agenda for mental health, substance use and addictions in Ontario.
Join EENet’s dialogue sessions, taking place across the province, to provide input on the evidence most needed to support you in your daily work and to navigate the  system. Sharing Together aims to identify priority evidence needs related to mental health, substance use, and addictions, in the areas of health promotion and prevention, early identification, treatment and recovery, and across the lifespan. Results of the in-person sessions, and an online survey, will be used to co-create an evidence priority agenda for Ontario.
For more information and to register for a session taking place in your area, click here.

13.  Wellesley Institute Report Examines Social Housing for MH & A in Ontario

In this province, supportive housing can emphasize the needs of those at risk for homelessness, or those who are coping with mental health and addiction issues.  This report surveys the various housing models available and considers the criteria of diversity against evaluating these approaches:

Taking Stock of Supportive Housing for Mental Health and Addictions in Ontario

14.  Webinar: HSJCC (Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee) on Addiction

This is the first of a three-part series on Addiction:  Overview of Addiction and Substance Misuse.

It takes place January 12, 2017 between noon and 1 pm, and is presented by Jean Hopkins, Policy Analyst, CMHA Ontario.

This first webinar covers:

-          Drug classifications and effects
-          Mental health and concurrent disorders
-          Connection between substance misuse and the justice system
-          Criminalization of addiction
-          Risk factors for addiction, including, social dislocation, environmental issues, and trauma

Use this link to register.

15.  Peer-Run Organizations That Work with Clients with Criminal Justice Involvement

This U.S. report offers a first look at profiles of innovative peer-run programs that will work with those who have been involved in the criminal justice system and their approaches:

Reentry and Renewal

16.  Healthydebate.ca:  Patient Involvement in Healthcare

This profile of Simon, who advocates for patient involvement in research, is provoking, because he makes the case several times where inclusion of public contributors with scientists offers value not just for opinions but by being public ambassadors in disseminating the research.

17.  Profiling Bibliotherapy:  Using Books to Cope

A variety of settings where reading is used to therapeutic effect is discussed here:

Exploring the Health Benefits of Fiction Therapy

18.  Loneliness and Mental Health

We have two related articles:  the first focuses on why it is threatening the health of older people; the second on how social isolation adds to the pressures of the holiday season on socially isolated men.

Loneliness:  a Growing  Health Threat to Older Adults

For Depressed and Suicidal Men, the Holiday Season can Add Unwelcome Pressures

19.  Lower Mortality Rate for Patients of Female Doctors

In a survey tracking over a million U.S. older patients, it was found that if patients were treated by a female doctor, they were less likely to die or be readmitted to hospital within 30 days.  While it is not clear what the reasons are, the author points to past studies that show care with links to better communication, more time spent with patients, and adhering to clinical guidelines:

Older Patients Tend to Fare Better with Female Doctors, Study Shows

20,  Take a Break from Facebook -- it's Good for You!

If you are a "lurker" or heavy user of Facebook, research shows that taking a week's break from it will reduce envy caused by this social monitoring:

Facebook Break Could Boost Wellbeing, Study Suggests

21.  A Touching Account of Returning to Work from a Hospitalization

This blog entry is a personal account of a healthcare professional who shares his thoughts on what it is like to return to work in a recovery-positive environment:

A Touch on the Arm:  Returning to Work after Mental Health Problems

22.  Dr. Cheryl Forchuk Honoured with Order of Ontario (follow-up)

Two local newspapers offered stories on her award:

Order of Ontario Honour Researcher's Work

Cheryl Forchuk and Robert Pio Hajjar Named to Order of Ontario


23. Health Quality Ontario Seeks New Members for Patients, Family Members and Public Advisors Council

The Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Public Advisors Council is made up of 16 individuals from across Ontario who bring unique and diverse perspectives based on their personal experience with the health system. They need new members.  To find out more and to complete an expressions of interest form go here.

24.  Consider Making a Year-End Donation to PSACC

Check out the Peer Support Accreditation and Certification Canada "Canada Helps" Donation page.
25.  Job Postings

York Support Services Network is seeking a Streamlined Access Mental Health Family Caregiver Navigator (permanent half-time position).


Addictions and Mental Health Ontario is pleased to announce its 2017 Conference to be held at the Sheraton Toronto Airport on May 28, 29 & 30, 2017. Attended by over 300 delegates, their conference continues to grow and deliver important and dynamic information, as well as offer an excellent networking opportunity to all participants.

Interested participants can find the application package on our website here.   The deadline to submit a presentation is January 20, 2017.


CMHA invites you to submit your abstracts for the second annual Mental Health For All Conference, September 18,19 and 20, 2017 in Toronto. 

We invite your abstract submission of a panel, solo or poster presentation. The deadline for abstract submission is Friday, February 24, 2017.

Please review the 'call for abstract' document here or fill out the abstract submission form here.   

28.  In Memoriam -- Martha Rybiak
We share heartfelt condolences with the members and staff of HOPE Brantford and CMHA Brantford on the passing of our good friend and colleague, and manager of HOPE, Martha Rybiak.  Martha was one of our original trainers of OPDI Peer Support Core Essentials, and will be remembered by everyone who was attached to the Connections TDM research project in 2000 - 2003 when she brought her program into the study and shared their idea of bringing peer support into hospital setting by the simple device of delivering welcome packages into the psychiatric ward - a program that continues to this day.  We, and many in Brantford area, will miss Martha's sincerity, dedication and her sense of humour.  Martha spoke often and with great pride of her daughter Paula, to whom we send our deepest sympathy for this great loss.

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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.