OPDI News & Events

OPDI NewsToGo Issue #516 March 15, 2017

Highlights include: Ontario and Ottawa Settle Health Transfers; MHCC Strategic Investment in Mental Health Report; Prescribing Heroin; Medical School Dropout Owes $170K; Disability Tax Credit; Webinars; 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.



MHCC / OPDI / CMHA Waterloo-Wellington January 18, 2007 Webinar "Integrating Peer Support with Integrity"  Now Available Online

This 90-minute webinar with OPDI's Executive Director Deb Sherman and Allan Strong, SSW, RSSW, Team Lead, Skills for Safer Living Self Help CMHA Waterloo-Wellington was offered through the Mental Health Commission of Canada and and can be found at this landing page.  The built-in closed-captioning is reasonably accurate.


1.  Ontario Newsroom

The Patient Ombudsman has a revamped website at https://patientombudsman.ca

The Ontario government announced new funding for housing to address the needs of those at risk of homelessness, as well as experiencing mental health or addiction issues.  It will include a component for indigenous populations.:

Ontario Boosting Housing Supports for Up to 6,000 Families in Need

A Three-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan was introduced:

Ontario Combatting Systemic Racism and Breaking Down Barriers

This news story covers the press conference and looks into current files that might be affected by the anti-racism strategy:

Ontario Government Unveils 3-Year Plan to Break Down Racism

2.  Ontario One of Three Provinces to Agree on Health Transfer Funding with Ottawa

Currently, Manitoba remains the only holdout of all the provinces and territories.  We have a federal government press release, a media story, and two analyses of what (if anything) has changed with the negotiations:

Canada Reaches Health Funding Agreement with Ontario

Ottawa, Quebec Reach Deal on Health Funding

Ontario Had Little Choice but to Take Health Deal

Provinces Get their Cash, but do we get Better Health Care?

These health announcements have not delayed federal government business; the Finance Minister Bill Morneau will table the coming budget March 22:

Federal Budget to Drop March 22, Morneau Confirms

3.  Mental Health Commission Releases Updated Business Case Report for Investing in Mental Health

Coincidentally just in time as the bilateral side-agreements between Ottawa and all provinces and territories (save Manitoba) each come with dedicated mental health funding, the MHCC offers ideas on how to invest those sums:

Strengthening the Case for Investing in Canada's Mental Health System

We have a news story from Canadian Press:

Report Makes Economic, Political Case for Dedicated Mental Health Funding

As well, the current MHCC Chair, Michael Wilson, pens an Op-Ed in the Toronto Star to argue further in favour:

Well-Planned Mental Health Investments will Help Long-Term:  Opinion

4.  Toronto's TTC Wheel-Trans Division Expands Eligibility  to Other Disabilities

The parallel transit system that serves the disabled community in Toronto will now serve people who have cognitive, sensory, or mental health disabilities, in keeping with the Ontario Human Rights Code:

TTC Expands Wheel-Trans Eligibility to Include People with Cognitive, Sensory, or Mental Health Disabilities

5.  Low City Taxes, the Social Determinants of Health, and Health Equity

Two doctors parse the proposed Toronto budget and write about the consequences of funding decisions:

Artificially Low Property Taxes are Bad for the Health of Toronto Residents

6.  Prescribed Heroin as Harm Reduction Proposed for Persons with Addictions

A top B.C. official says it might work for a subset of clients:

With January Overdose Numbers Out, Experts Suggest Prescription Heroin as Next Step

In Vancouver, they are already doing so:

Vancouver Clinic Turns Long-Time Addicts from Prescription Heroin to Abstinence

7.  Mental Health and Incarceration in the News

An Ottawa man who completed suicide in jail was actually on the wait list for a psychiatric bed:

"It's a Total Tragedy"

People who are considered at risk of suicide and confined to seclusion at a London hospital have nothing good to say about their lodgings:

Seclusion Room Controversy

8.   Complex Mental Health Case Brings Up a Need for Mental Health Court in Community

A prisoner's perplexing medical history raises several issues, including that a traditional court does not serve his needs well:

Machete Attacker Emblematic of Complex Mental Health Cases

9.  Pat Deegan Visits Pembroke to Speak on Her Recovery

The noted professor and authority on mental health recovery's visit was covered by the local press:

Dr. Pat Deegan Speaks on Mental Illness and Recovery:  Escaping a "Life of Handicaptivity"

10.  "Do it Yourself" Solutions to Mental Health Happening in Toronto

We have a profile of two people who create and offer their own "safe space" to others (a physical one and a virtual zone) to cope with mental health issues:

Why DIY Solutions for Mental Health Are on the Rise in Toronto

11.  Medical School Dropout With Mental Health Diagnosis Sued by Royal Bank for Tuition Loan

The misunderstanding of the conditions of this former student's $170,000 loan not only seems unfair but could worsen his health status:

On the Hook for $170K:  RBC Sues Student Forced out of Medical School by Mental Illness

Another story sourced from academia:  a candidate for the University of Guelph student council presidency lost his bid for office after disclosure to the student press about his past criminal record (incurred in part due to untreated mental health issues):

Graduate Loses Election for University of Guelph Student President After Past Revealed Online


12.  Mad Canada Shadow Report

This is a thoughtful 40-page report taking a different and clear perspective of the rights of people with a mental health diagnosis here in Canada in the context of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Hint:  this country needs to do better.

13.  This St. Michael's Hospital Physician and Researcher is Pioneering Patient-Driven Research

Dr. Andreas Laupacis believes patients should be involved in all stages of research including the framing of priorities; he is profiled in this article:

Trying to "Change the Cult of Medicine" by Letting Patients Decide What Gets Researched

14.  Physical Risks of Using Marijuana Emerge in New Study

An American heart researcher has found a tie between marijuana use and the increased risk of heart disease and stroke; it is speculated that it is due to the drug being smoked and inhaled:

If You Use Marijuana Read This

15.  The Disability Tax Credit Explained by the Canada Revenue Agency

This time of year, people are especially interested in knowing more about the Disability Tax Credit.  It's always best to apply for this on your own -- the CRA explains it very well:

CRA:  Disability Tax Credit

As it is tax season, John Stapleton's website and his clearly written approach to the pros and cons of retirement savings plans and other tax issues should be bookmarked:

John Stapleton's Open Policy Ontario:  Retiring on a Low Income

16.  A Journal Article Asks:  Why Have These Four Countries Shown Increases in Incidence of Mental Illness Despite Increased Treatment?

The countries mentioned in the case study:  Canada, United States, England, and Australia.  The authors speculate about a "quality" gap or a "prevention gap":

Despite Increase in Treatments, Prevalence of Mental Health Issues Climb

17.  For People Coping with Addiction, Words Matter

Referring to a person as an "addict" or an "user" is looking at the illness, not an individual.  It is stigmatizing and encourages avoidant behaviour, which could have fatal consequences:

When it Comes to People with Addictions, Words Matter:  Experts

n another piece, the author says that the dismissive language and photos typically used in a media feature imply that persons with an addiction are bad people:

How Language Stigmatizes Patients with Addiction

18.  Doctors May Have Reasons Not to Prescribe Marijuana

Some of the potential doubts are listed in this piece:

Why Doctors Don't Want to be the Gatekeepers of Medical Marijuana

19.  Postpartum Depression -- An Unrecognized Priority

The authors say we need services, supports, and screening of pregnant moms and again after giving birth:

Defusing the Ticking Time Bomb that can be Postpartum Depression

20.  Dentistry and Medicine -- Worlds Apart

The author of a book that looks at the background behind why dentistry and medicine are practiced separately, and its consequences in healthcare is interviewed in this story:

Why Dentistry is Separate from Medicine

21.  Social Media Usage and Loneliness.  Is The Cellphone The New Drug of Choice for Teenagers?

This article refers to several studies that suggest a link between the amount of time spent using social media and perceived social isolation:

Feeling Lonely?  Too Much Time on Social Media May be Why

A group of scholars have started discussing whether the constant stimulation and use of cellphones by this generation of youth has possibly started edging out substance use and partying as recreational activities of choice:

Are Teenagers Replacing Drugs with Smartphones?


22.  Patient and Family Advisory Council -- Recruitment Underway (repeat)

The deadline to apply to be a council member is April 10.  Refer to the government webpage for full details.

23.  Petition in Support of Stella's Place

The fledgling peer support-oriented youth and young adult community mental health program wants to draw the attention of Premier Wynne to its funding needs.  You can sign on to support the agency here:

Help Stella's Place Save Lives

24.  Job Postings

CAMH has two three-month positions for Client Experience Assistant.

CMHA York and South Simcoe has a Peer Support Specialist position for their ACT Team available.
25.  The Ontario Housing First Regional Network Community of Interest (OHFRNCoI) Presents a Webinar On… Rent Assistance

Rent assistance is a cornerstone of the Housing First approach to ending chronic homelessness. Yet many Ontario communities do not have rent assistance or enough rent assistance to meet the needs of the homeless population. Furthermore, when available, rent assistance is often implemented in many different ways. Communities vary in terms of the dollar amounts of rent assistance per person and whether the rent assistance is portable or tied to a specific housing unit.
Date: Thursday, May 4, 2017
Time: 1:00 − 2:30 PM (EST)
Register here. To see the flyer click here.
In this webinar, the results of a recent study of rent assistance are presented, along with a panel from three communities about their approaches to rent assistance. You will learn about:

  • The OHFRN‐CoI;
  • A recent evaluation of the impacts of rent assistance on housing stability and quality of life of persons experiencing persistent homelessness the Waterloo region of Ontario;
  • Experiences from the ground, specifically:
  • How to obtain rent assistance for homeless persons; and
  • How to implement rent assistance.

Participants from different communities are encouraged to attend and share their stories about providing rent assistance to persons experiencing chronic homelessness.

26.  Black Experiences in Healthcare Symposium  March 25th in Toronto

The Black Experiences in Health-Care (BEHC) Symposium is an initiative of Sinai Health System Human Rights & Health Equity Office, Toronto Central LHIN and the BEHC committee which includes: Black Health Alliance, Wellesley Institute and TAIBU Community Health Centre. The Symposium aims to identify and raise awareness of issues and concerns relating to health inequities faced by Black Ontarians with a Toronto focus.  Please join us for a full-day discussion on how we can begin to address these inequities and strategize to find solutions that will improve access and care for Black Ontarians in the health-care system. Please register to save your space: bit.ly/blackexperience or click on the attached poster.

27.  Peer Positive Webinar

Presented by the Northwest Toronto Service Collaborative, this is an introduction to a new toolkit geared towards the value of lived experience.  Please refer to the poster and the website link where you can register for the April 5th event at 1 pm.

28.  John Stapleton's Personal Finance Workshops Spring 2017 (Toronto Public Library)

"Retiring on a Low Income:  Plain Language Advice" is being presented by John at nine Toronto Public Library branches between April and June 2017.  Please refer to the poster for dates and locations.
29.  Bell Let's Talk Community Fund (repeat)

The deadline is March 31st for community organizations to apply for grants between $5,000 and $25,000 for the purpose of improving access to mental health care, supports and services for people with mental illness.  The webpage is here.


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