Category Archives: Mental Health

Can Canada’s first mental health strategy really find buy-in from the provinces?

At the very end of the launch of Canada’s first ever mental health strategy, a reporter asked Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq if the government intended to seek uniform mental health services across the provinces.

Senator Michael Kirby jumped in, saying there never has been uniformity. The level of access to services presently varies between provinces. Some will need to do more than others. The gaps were different.

Dr. David Goldbloom, the new Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, said the recommendations were meant to be at a high enough level that they could be shaped by the individual provinces.

The presenters had begun the presentation by describing the strategy in historic terms; the reality became clear by the end that there was a considerable job ahead to sell the provinces on one guiding path forward.

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Mental Health Week: Be part of a Parkdale human chain May 12

Arrabon House believes the way to start a conversation is to put tape over your mouth and stand in a really big line.

The first annual “Stop The ‘Crazy’ Movement” is asking those who care about mental health to do just that on Saturday, May 12 in the Toronto community of Parkdale.

The plan is to form a human chain that begins at 4 pm on Queen St. W. at Roncesvalles and spreads eastward. Each person on the chain will link arms, wear a white t-shirt, and place masking tape over their mouth with words describing their connection to a specific mental illness as a patient, survivor, family member, friend or as a health care professional. According to the organizers, on cue everybody’s tape comes off, symbolizing how “crazy” it is for us not to talk about something that affects so many people.

“The connections we are creating will help promote our community, as well as strengthen the existing bonds we have,” the organizers state in their release.

During the human chain the Marsaryk-Cowan Community Centre will serve as a check point for the event, offering information on community resources, a BBQ and “Stop The Crazy” merchandise. The actual chain is intended to require only a small commitment of time.

That evening, the real fun begins at The Sister pub (1554 Queen St. W.), where a silent auction will take place to raise money for Arrabon House. The party includes a live band – “Your New Neighbours” and stand-up comedy.

Arrabon House has been part of the Parkdale community since 1973, providing support to young women who have experienced trauma, abuse, and mental health issues.

Stop The ‘Crazy’ takes place on the final weekend of the national Mental Health Week.

When: Saturday, May 12 / 4 pm
Where: Queen & Roncesvalles, Toronto
Download: Stop The Crazy Poster

You Can Help!

Aarbon is looking for volunteers and sponsors for their event as well as donations to their silent auction. If you can help, please contact Corey Ramsay at 416-509-4634 ( or Wendy Curnew at 416-570-4032 (

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Sign of the times: First Ontario nursing strike in almost a decade

For the first time in nearly a decade Ontario nurses are on strike.

Twenty-five public health nurses working for Haldimand-Norfolk Public Health began their strike April 24 stating the Corporation of Norfolk County insisted on gutting their collective agreement.

“A strike is the last thing that our nurses wanted,” said Linda Haslam Stroud, president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association. “The public health nurses are very aware of the impact of a strike may have and are deeply concerned about withdrawing the valuable services they provide to their community; however, these nurses deserve to be respected and offered a fair collective agreement for the care they provide.”

Public health nurses are the front line of preventative care, from visits to new mothers to providing immunization and participating in infectious disease strategies.

The strike is likely an early indicator of the extreme hardball public sector employers intend to play with health sector professional and support staff.

The public health nurses recently attended a Norfolk municipal council meeting in which they were forbidden from speaking.

Across the province in Simcoe County, OPSEU members working at Kinark Child and Family Services are back to the bargaining table with the aid of a Ministry of Labour conciliator. The 85 mental health workers have been trying to reach an agreement for six months.

Despite increasing the number of managers earning more than $100,000 per year, Kinark is telling the workers they cannot negotiate compensation increases. Most earn between $39,000 and $57,000 per year.

If conciliation fails, these workers could also soon be on strike.

To support the striking ONA nurses, go to:

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Drummond report mostly ignores mental health despite the high cost of doing nothing

The McGuinty government says they are committed to implementing about half of the recommendations from the Drummond Commission on the Reform of Public Services.

The other half will be subject to study (read: likely to drift away into the ether).

In health care most of that should be relatively easy given a significant number of Drummond’s 105 recommendations are already in the McGuinty government’s plan, from the implementation of a new funding formula for hospitals (Health-Based Allocation Model) to his endorsement of the government’s sketchy mental health strategy.

Given the recommendations are intended to be implemented over the next four years, it may take some time to ultimately figure out what is really in and out.

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Taxes – Let the mole people pay

Late last year the Vector Poll asked Canadians about whether they supported a 5-cents a drink tax to fund mental health programs.

This is an idea that has floated around for a while. In 2007 Senator Michael Kirby suggested a five cent tax on booze would raise $500 million a year that could help revamp Canada’s woeful mental health services.

To put that in perspective, the provincial initiative to improve mental health services for children and youth is spending about $70 million per year.

The Vector Poll has shown that of all health services, Canadians have the least faith in the present mental health system. If there is anything close to consensus, it is on the necessity for new investment in these services.

The connection between mental health, addictions and alcohol is about as clear as it gets.

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Austerity likely to create more stress-related illness in the workplace

Employers in the public sector may need to think a lot more about the state of mental health as it impacts the workplace.

A new round of restraint is likely to create heightened anxiety among those at risk of losing their jobs, and among those left behind, the threat of work overload and an upset work/life balance.

This is on top of a media environment where public service is being rapidly devalued; raising issues of esteem among those whose career choice is to serve their community.

Mental illness is already the number one cause for disability claims in the workplace.

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Drummond Report: CAMH VP supports more access to gambling?

One has to wonder about what role Susan Pigott played on the Drummond Commission for Public Sector Reform.

Pigott is one of four appointed Commissioners.

Piggott’s day job is Vice-President Communications and Community Engagement at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

You would think, being one in four, her influence would have considerable impact on the final report. We read the Commission report expecting it would come out swinging in favour of good mental health and addictions policies.

And yet the Commission comes out squarely in favour of more access to gambling.

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